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Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama joins Shaq in history after 40-20 outburst

Victor Wembanyama produced another historic performance, and joined Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal in some rare company to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a win over the New York Knicks.

Wembanyama recorded a career-high 40 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block on Friday in a 130-126 overtime victory. He went 13-of-22 from the field, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range, in 37 minutes of work at Frost Bank Center.

The top pick became the first rookie to register a 40-20 game since O’Neal had 46 points and 21 rebounds with the Orlando Magic on Feb. 16, 1993. He is the second-youngest player to record such a stat line (20 years, 85 days).

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was impressed with the effort.

It just shows what he is going to be when he understands all of the physicality that is coming to him all of the time and what to do about it. Fortunately, he is also a hell of an instinctive passer and is willing to do what he needs to do in that regard. He is pretty special.

The Spurs appeared to be cruising toward an easy win after leading by 21 points in the first half. The Knicks responded by outscoring the Spurs 64-47 in the second half to force their first overtime game of the season. Wembanyama had five points in the extra time to lead the Spurs.

The epic display by Wembanyama was likely enough to be one of the top performances across the league on Friday, but the 7-footer was out-staged by Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, who had a career-high 61 points. It was the sixth-highest output in the NBA this season.

Wembanyama was happy to see his team hold on down the stretch.

I’m proud of us for controlling the game. Of course, they came back in the third quarter, but it is expected from a team like this. We knew how to control the game, so that was good. (It was) a heartfelt battle. I feel good because they’re a very good team, especially defensively. It just shows our progression.

Wembanyama is averaging 21 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.4 blocks and 1.2 steals on 46.8% shooting from the field in 65 games. He leads the NBA in blocks and also tops the rookie class in points, rebounds and steals this season.

He is the front-runner to win Rookie of the Year after achieving numerous accomplishments, including becoming the youngest player in history to register a 5×5 game and recording a triple-double with blocks. He has also won Rookie of the Month twice.

Wembanyama is pleased when he can have games like those.

“It isn’t the goal, but it still shows progress,” Wembanyama said. “The more of those accolades I can get, the more I will get. Of course, it’s also one of my convictions to be always unique and different and do things never seen before.”

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire