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USA conquers the World in NBA Rising Stars Challenge

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The pointless and high-profile scrimmage turns into a dunk contest, compiling an impressive highlight reel of athleticism and show-boating.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After enduring the torturous celebrity game - where MVP winner Arcade Fire's Win Butler got bumped after bringing politics into his acceptance speech, and Kevin Hart repeatedly bludgeoned a small child - basketball fans were treated with the follow-up BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. The glorified Freshman and Sophomore scrimmage saw the United States team beat the World team 157-154.

Referees let their whistles rest unused on their chests, watching dunk after dunk (nearly 50 in total) - show-off moves that recalled drinking games (or more aggressive competitions of punch face) at parties hosted by bored frat guys.

As time went on, the 3-pointers, fast breaks, and lobs became more extravagant. The competitors seemed to be auditioning for Saturday morning highlight reels, before they are discarded and forgotten in favor of the more glamorous contests held later this weekend.

Zach Lavine earned the top honors with long-range jumpers and aggressive, offensive attacks to the basket, contributing to the USA's victory with 30 points (13/20 fgm), seven rebounds, and four assists.

A brief history: the contest was established in 1994 and pits first- and second- year players against each other. Just last year, the format of the exhibition changed to USA vs. The World. With the award, Levine joins an impressive past-recipient list; he will defend his Slam Dunk crown Saturday night, attempting to become the fourth player in history to win back-to-back contests.

If The World squad won, Kristaps Porzingis (30 points, 5/8 3-pointers, five rebounds, four assists) probably would have earned MVP, cheered on by a fan wearing a unicorn mask, with a shirt that read "Godzingis".

When "Godzingis" took the floor, the Toronto crowd went insane, and he drained a three immediately at the start of regulation, showing versatility by shifting from the 3 position to the 5 after the half. Here's Kristaps taking out some aggression on the rim for presumably not being selected as an All-Star.

Stats

USA

Players with double digit points: 8

Players with at least 20 points: 4

Dunks: 21

3-point field goals: 19/46

Free throws: 8/9

World

Players with double digit points: 7

Players with at least 20 points: 3

Dunks: 25

3-point field goals: 15/38

Free throws: 5/8

Lead Changes: 11

Ties: 2

Media Notes

  • Jordan Clarkson (25 points) is getting a fat paycheck over free agency this summer. The dude can ball, and Los Angeles is unlikely to retain his services. If Mike Conley bails on Memphis as expected, the young PG could be a solid replacement.

  • Why the heck wasn't Boban Marjanovich invited?

  • If Minnesota can get it together, they have a bright future. Lavine, Towns, and Wiggins could be the next high-volume scoring trio. The Timberwolves were eager to impress tonight. Besides Lavine's MVP honors, last year's BBVARisingStars winner Andrew Wiggins finished with 29 points and Karl Anthony-Towns contributed 18 points.

  • The jerseys are so much sexier than last year. Love the color fade, more alternative unis should incorporate the design.

  • I feel like Emmanuel Mudiay (30 points) should be MVP on assists alone (10 assists). Who the heck passes during a Rising Stars game?

  • What's the purpose of this game again?

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