DENVER — Nikola Jokic had a season-high 39 points to go with 11 rebounds and nine assists, and the Nuggets spoiled the Denver debut of Victor Wembanyama with a 132-120 win over San Antonio on Sunday night, sending the Spurs to their 12th straight loss.
Wembanyama, the top pick in the June draft, finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and four blocks in 24 minutes to become the first rookie with those stats.
“I like bringing something new to the game,” he said. “I’m glad I can already put my name in history a little bit. It’s a good feeling.”
Wembanyama’s big night couldn’t stop San Antonio’s slide. It is the third longest losing streak in franchise history. The Spurs lost 13 in a row in the 1988-89 season and 16 in a row last season.
Michael Porter Jr. scored 25 points and Reggie Jackson had 20 for Denver, which improved to 8-0 at home. The Nuggets had dropped four of five on their recent road trip, including a loss to Houston on Friday night that eliminated them from the NBA In-Season Tournament.
“All of us are kind of frustrated trying to figure out why we play so different and so at a different pace,” Porter said of the poor road play. “We’re running more at home. I don’t know what it is, so I think we got to figure it out.”
Porter spent some time guarding Wembanyama, who continues to impress his coach despite the losses mounting.
“He’s playing aggressively. He’s affecting the game in a lot of different ways,” Gregg Popovich said. “He’s blocking shots. He’s scoring. He’s a willing assist man. He’s very unselfish. He doesn’t worry about making a mistake.”
Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon sat out with a right heel strain that was bothering him in the blowout loss against the Rockets, a game in which he missed all 12 of his field goal attempts. Justin Holiday made his first start of the season in place of Gordon.
Denver coach Michael Malone said he would shake up his rotation in the wake of the 1-4 road trip and it meant DeAndre Jordan getting time as Jokic’s backup. The veteran had six points and five rebounds in six minutes in the first half and made all three of his shots from the field.
The Nuggets led by four after the first quarter and 68-48 late in the second before San Antonio rallied to get within 12 at halftime. The Spurs opened the third on a 7-2 run but Denver outscored them 33-17 the rest of the period to lead by 23 heading into the fourth.
Wembanyama nearly had a highlight dunk in the second half when he soared to the basket, but Julian Strawther fouled him to deny the bucket.
“A lot of guys are getting out of the way,” Malone said. “People have a phobia of being on SportsCenter, getting dunked on. Victor Wembanyama, he’s going to dunk on a lot of people. That guy is a hell of a player, he’s only going to get better.”
San Antonio: Hosts Atlanta on Thursday
Denver: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba