Team Chuck crush Team Shaq
LOS ANGELES (dpa) – Kenneth Faried was the brightest of the young stars Friday night, collecting 40 points and 10 rebounds, as Team Chuck walloped Team Shaq 163-135 in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge to kick off NBA All-Star Weekend.
The Denver Nuggets’ second-year forward nicknamed “The Manimal,” put on a show, shooting 18-of-22 from the field, including 10 rim-rattling dunks and was named the most valuable player of the game.
“Me and my team came out focused and we wanted to win,” Faried said.
Faried warmed up for the Slam Dunk Competition as the human pogo stick offered a glimpse of the creative throw-downs he has in mind for Saturday night’s fan-favourite event.
Team Chuck’s Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers (left) celebrates with Isaiah Thomas during the first half against Team Shaq in the Rising Stars Challenge basketball game. AP
“That’s just a sneak preview, that’s nothing what I’m gonna do tomorrow,” he said. “There’s gonna be lot of competition but I think I can rise up and get the trophy.”
Tristan Thompson and Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points apiece, Isaiah Thomas had 18 with 10 assists for Team Chuck, who shot a sizzling 63.9 per cent (69-of-108) from the floor and buried 17-of-32 from behind the arc in the wire-to-wire beat-down.
Team Shaq was led by the most valuable player of last year’s event, Kyrie Irving, who tossed in 32 points, while Dion Waters and Damian Lillard added 23 and 18, respectively in the loss.
Before the start of the game, honorary general manager Shaquille O’Neal made the bold prediction his club would win by 20. Instead, he dropped to 0-2 against a team put together by counterpart Charles Barkley.
“They pretty much outplayed us,” O’Neal said. “They played harder than us and they wanted it more.”
The high-energy, fast-paced exhibition contest featuring first and second year players was set in a playground-type atmosphere filled with fast-breaking alley-oop dunks off slick passes, especially several by Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio (10 assists) for Team Chuck that delighted the fans at Houston’s Toyota Centre.
Team Chuck raced out to commanding 90-66 at halftime cushion in the shortened 20-minute halves behind Faried’s 19 points while Thomas added 14 and never looked back en route to setting a record for most points scored in the competition.
After Team Shaq pulled within 109-92 Barkley’s squad quickly pushed it 141-116, and eventually 33 before the closing minutes turned into a dunk-a-thon led by Faried.
With five minutes left and the game already decided, Irving put on a nifty ball-handling display.
The speedy All-Star guard made a few fancy ankle-twisting crossover dribbles against Brandon Knight, causing the rookie to fall down, resulting in baskets that drew oohs and aah from both players and fans.
“I just wanted to put on a show for the fans,” Irving said.