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Wembanyama gets grounded

JOE MURPHY/agence france-presse Victor Wembanyama sits out the San Antonio Spurs’ game against the New Orleans Pelicans because of a sore right hip.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — San Antonio rookie Victor Wembanyama was sidelined for the first time in his National Basketball Association career on Friday as the Spurs ruled him out against the New Orleans Pelicans with a sore right hip.

Wembanyama played through the problem on Thursday, scoring 21 points with 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in the Spurs’ 137-135 loss to the Atlanta Hawks — San Antonio’s 13th straight defeat.

The towering French teen downplayed the injury after the game, but said he considered it a “day to day” decision as to whether he would play.

“My body in general feels as good as we can expect this many games into the season,” said Wembanyama, the number one draft pick who said he’s still learning to manage his fitness during the rigors of an NBA campaign.

“Once the season starts, that’s what I’ve learned, it’s more maintaining,” he said. “Every day we mustn’t miss meals, must sleep as much as we can.”

Spurs medical staff have been monitoring the tightness in his hip, and coach Gregg Popovich had indicated after Thursday’s game that a day off for Wembanyama could be on the cards.

“We’re trying to protect him,” Popovich said. “We’ll see how his hip came out of this one.”

In 18 games, Wembanyama is averaging 19.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, the most among all rookies. His average of 2.7 blocks per game leads the league.

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