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Jan 13, 2024 8:53 am

Spurs, without Victor Wembanyama, set to battle Bulls

The San Antonio Spurs will look to build on their most impressive three-game stretch of the season when they host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.

San Antonio and Chicago will meet for the third time this season, a rarity created by the teams’ performance in the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament.

Saturday’s contest will represent the second game between the teams in the Alamo City. The Bulls have captured the first two meetings this season, winning 121-112 on the road on Dec. 8 and 114-95 in Chicago on Dec. 21.

San Antonio has won two straight games, with the latest victory a 135-99 walloping of the hapless Charlotte Hornets on Friday. Rookie Victor Wembanyama racked up 26 points and 11 rebounds in 20 minutes to lead the Spurs to just their second back-to-back wins of the season.

Doug McDermott scored 14 points, Jeremy Sochan 13 and Devin Vassell 12 for San Antonio. The Spurs led by 21 points at the half and won by their largest margin of the campaign.

The two wins followed a 117-115 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. The Spurs’ improved offensive flow and recent success also can be traced to Tre Jones’ insertion into the starting lineup at the point. Jones received his first start of the season on Jan. 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I continue to pride myself on being a leader for us on the court, try to be an extension of coach on the court as well,” Jones said. You know, try to get everybody in their spots that they need to be, get them the ball and help make their lives easier on the offensive end. Then, defensively, try to set the tone for us as well.”

Wembanyama will sit out Saturday’s game as a precaution from an ankle injury.

The Bulls head to San Antonio after losing 140-131 at home to Golden State on Friday. DeMar DeRozan scored 39 points, Zach LaVine and Coby White had 25 apiece, and Nikola Vucevic added 14 for Chicago, which fell despite shooting 58.1 percent from the floor.

Chicago led by 13 points early in the third quarter but was outscored by 28 in that period and entered the fourth down 110-95. The Bulls got within four points on White’s floater with 2:57 remaining and cut their deficit to 135-129 on Vucevic 3-pointer with 1:19 left.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Chicago, a surge that has been aided by LaVine’s return to the lineup after he missed more than a month with a right foot injury. Friday’s loss was his fourth game back in the lineup and second straight in the starting five.

“Just got to read the game,” LaVine said of working back into the flow with his teammates. “When the game isn’t going well, guys like me, DeMar and (Vucevic) are able to create offense. Now the offense looks good, and we don’t want to over-pass and still make smart decisions. I’ll find my rhythm.”

–Field Level Media

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