2016 NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge Recap

Feb 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; U.S player Karl-Anthony Towns (32) high fives U.S player Zach LaVine (8) prior to their game during the Rising Stars Challenge basketball game against the World at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; U.S player Karl-Anthony Towns (32) high fives U.S player Zach LaVine (8) prior to their game during the Rising Stars Challenge basketball game against the World at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

In the 2016 Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend, Team USA defeated Team World 157-154. Here’s the recap and highlight plays.

In a game that makes NBA All-Star Game defense look like the 2004 Detroit Pistons, Team USA survived a close game against Team World in the 2016 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, 157-154.

Zach LaVine made it two straight years of a Minnesota Timberwolves player winning MVP honors in the Rising Stars Challenge, finishing with 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead Team USA. LaVine’s 30 points tied Kristaps Porzingis and Emmanuel Mudiay for a game-high.

Reigning Rising Stars MVP Andrew Wiggins added 29 points and five boards for Team World in his homeland of Canada, while Jordan Clarkson (25 points) and Devin Booker (23 points) followed up LaVine in the scoring column for Team USA.

At the half, Team USA held an 88-79 lead with both teams shooting above 63 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range.

Emmanuel Mudiay led all scorers at the break with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-5 from three-point range. He also added in seven assists, tying Raul Neto and D’Angelo Russell for a game-high at the half.

Orlando Magic rookie Mario Hezonja chipped in 16 points in 11 minutes off the bench, making his case for MVP known early. He blocked Devin Booker’s layup attempt, pulled down four rebounds and knocked down seven of his first 12 shots.

Speaking of Booker, who replaced the injured Nerlens Noel in the Rising Stars Challenge at the last minute, the Phoenix Suns rookie wasted no time in reminding fans why his team’s season hasn’t been a complete disaster, tallying 18 points in his first nine minutes off the bench.

He made four of his six three-point attempts and earned the halftime admiration of Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Jordan Clarkson, who had a team-high 19 points on 5-of-8 three-point shooting at the half.

Andrew Wiggins also chipped in 14 points in the first half for Team World, while teammate Zach LaVine added 15 points for Team USA.

In the first half, the highlights were aplenty with neither team playing anything even close to resembling defense. Jabari Parker‘s windmill dunk got things started, with commentators Grant Hill and Chris Webber paying Dominique Wilkins respect for gifting the world with the perfected version of that dunk.

Parker quickly followed that highlight dunk up by sprinting back down the court and blocking a layup attempt by Nikola Jokic:

Dallas Mavericks forward Dwight Powell may have been the most questionable addition to the Rising Stars rosters, but the Canadian native certainly proved his worth in a no-defense affair, with his first put-back dunk providing one of the game’s best highlights for the Toronto crowd:

In the second half, the defense tightened up down the stretch, but Team World was unable to overcome the narrow deficit. Team USA led by eight with two minutes to play, and an Andrew Wiggins put-back dunk cut the lead to three with 23 seconds left.

Wiggins finished the game with 29 points on 13-of-15 shooting, with most of his field goal attempts coming on dunks. At the free throw line, the native Canadian was also serenaded with MVP chants from the home crowd.

But on the determining play of the game, Jabari Parker freed himself up on the inbounds pass and attacked the basket, posterizing Kristaps Porzingis and putting the game out of reach.

Teammate Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists, added his name to the highlight reel with a couple of monster second half alley-oops to help keep Team USA in front.

LaVine’s frequent forays to the basket also played a large part in Team USA sustaining its second half lead, with the reigning Slam Dunk champion eventually earning MVP honors behind 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists. LaVine went 13-for-20 from the floor in 23 minutes.

Jordan Clarkson represented the Los Angeles Lakers with 25 points, five assists and five rebounds, Booker finished with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting (5-of-9 from three-point range) and D’Angelo Russell put up 22 points and seven assists.

Jahlil Okafor had 13 points off the bench, Jabari Parker added 12, Rodney Hood had 13 on 5-of-6 shooting and Marcus Smart (three points, 1-of-8 shooting) and Elfrid Payton (zero points, 0-of-2 shooting) were the duds for Team USA.

Porzingis led Team World with 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting, including 5-for-8 shooting from deep.

Mudiay also had 30 points, along with a game-high 10 assists. He also went 12-for-20 from the field and 5-for-10 from three-point range. Mario Hezonja finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in 23 minutes.

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Dwight Powell, Clint Capela and Nikola Jokic chipped in 12 points apiece, Bogdan Bogdanovic added six and the Utah Jazz youngsters — Trey Lyles and Raul Neto — were the low scorers for Team World, with two points apiece. Lyles’ started the game 0-for-5 before his first dunk, which came with 7:50 remaining in the game. Neto added nine assists.