Spurs’ Wembanyama out vs. Pelicans with hip tightness

San Antonio Spurs centre Victor Wembanyama (1). (Eric Gay/AP)

NEW ORLEANS — Victor Wembanyama has been ruled out of San Antonio’s game against New Orleans on Friday because of right hip tightness.

It will be the first game the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft will miss in his brief NBA career. He averaged 19.3 points and 9.7 rebounds through the first 18 games of the season for San Antonio, which entered Friday with a 3-15 record.

Wembanyama played through the hip issue on Thursday, finishing with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in 29 minutes of San Antonio’s 137-135 loss to Atlanta.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after that game that not playing Wembanyama in the second half of a back-to-back was a possibility.

“We’re trying to protect him,” Popovich said Thursday.

Giving Wembanyama the Friday game off will mean he will get nearly a week of rest, at minimum. Because of the break provided by the knockout round that starts Monday in the In-Season Tournament, the earliest Wembanyama would play again is Wednesday at Minnesota.

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