Charlotte (USA): The NBA All-Stars are bound to set the wood on the basketball court ablaze on Sunday but Friday was Rising Stars day. And boy did they rise… and shine.
In the Rising Stars game at the Spectrum Center, USA showcased its talent in abundant measure when they beat Team World 161-144 in a high-scoring exhibition, no-defence game, where the ball splashed through the net with amazing regularity and fans got to roar about rim-rattling dunks.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was the star of the show, scoring 35 points and six rebounds to lead USA from the front. He was adjudged Most Valuable Player for his outstanding performance. Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics was the second best for USA with 30 points and nine rebounds.
Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young (25) and Donovan Mitchell (20) of the Utah Jazz came in with handy contributions. Young dished out 10 assists as well and was dazzling on the court with some speedy moves. “Kuz did what he's really good at, shooting the ball and scoring the ball. He definitely showed out tonight and put on a show. Without his 35, we'd probably lose,” Young praised Kuzma after the game.
Kuzma was frank. “I played in this game last year, and I was really lackadaisical, and I didn't want to do that again,” he said of his MVP performance.
On the other side, it was Ben Simmons all the way. The Philadelphia 76ers ace sank a team-high 28 points for the World side to warm-up for the All-Star game on Sunday. Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls was the other decent scorer with 21 points.
“We knew from the beginning of the game that the World Team has won the past two years. For us, we wanted to win but also at the same time have fun and enjoy it. That third quarter, we had gotten the lead, and then we wanted to keep it there and be more competitive,” Young said....