Wembanyama stars as Spurs beat Nuggets

Victor Wembanyama scored 34 points as the San Antonio Spurs stunned the Denver Nuggets to open up the race for top seed in the Western Conference.

Denver knew two wins from their final two games would secure the top spot and home advantage in the playoffs.

But their defeat plus wins for the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder leaves the trio level.

It is the first time in NBA history there has been a three-way tie for the top spot with one game left.

Wembanyama, 20, added 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks, while Devonte’ Graham hit the deciding jumper with 0.9 seconds left on the clock to seal victory.

Despite the win, San Antonio remains level with the Portland Trail Blazers at the foot of the Western Conference.

At the top, Oklahoma City beat the Milwaukee Bucks 125-107 while Minnesota were 109-106 winners against Atlanta.

Oklahoma City leads the Conference because of their superior head-to-head record between the other two sides, with Minnesota second and Denver third.

The only way Denver can regain top spot is if both Oklahoma City and Minnesota lose in their final games on Sunday.

Victor Wembanyama dunking a basketIMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,

Victor Wembanyama was first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft

“It’s disappointing. I mean, really disappointing,” Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We controlled our own destiny and we just gave it right back.”

Elsewhere on Friday, the Cleveland Cavaliers secured their play-off spot in the Eastern Conference with a 129-120 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Donovan Mitchell top-scored with 33 points and Jarrett Allen added 24 as Cleveland ensured a top-six finish.

Indiana are now level with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic on 46-35 in the race for the final two automatic play-off places.

Orlando would have secured their place with a win over Philadelphia on Friday but 32 points from Joel Embiid helped the Sixers win 125-113 for a seventh straight victory.

Miami Heat are one game back and still have a chance of a top-six finish after beating the Toronto Raptors 125-103.

LeBron James scored 37 points as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 123-120 to move up to eighth in the Western Conference.

The Lakers began the day level with the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on 45-34, but Golden State lost 114-109 to the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento lost 108-107 to the Phoenix Suns.

The top six teams in each conference qualify for the play-offs while the teams in seventh to 10th face play-in games for the final two spots.

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