Andre Drummond scored 30 points and grabbed a Rising Stars Challenge-record 25 rebounds to lead Team Hill to a 142-136 win over Team Webber on Friday night.
Drummond shot out of the blocks, netting 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first nine minutes of the game. His huge frame and intense eventually earning him MVP honours in the league’s premier showcase of young talent.
The Detroit big man connected on 12-21 shots from the field, and even nailed 6-8 from the line despite his poor free throw-shooting track record, in only 28 minutes of game time.
Perhaps the only thing that went wrong for the MVP was the trophy presentation. The trophy found its way to the floor before it made its way into Drummond’s hands after the representative from game sponsor BBVA lost his grip on the award as he handed it to the winner.
“It happened last year, too, so I wasn’t expecting anything less,” an unfazed Drummond said after the game.
“Usually a slip-up happens every year with the trophy. So I wasn’t too shocked about that.”
However, Drummond was not the only Rising Star that could have taken the MVP trophy home.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ swingman Dion Waiters (31 points and seven assists) and New York Knicks’ marksman Tim Hardaway Jr. (36 points) thrilled the crowd with an exhilarating one-on-one battle in the second half.
The two sharpshooters traded big bucket after big bucket, wowing the crowd and bringing court-side superstars Kevin Durant and James Harden to their feet.
The head-to-head match up started to heat up in the second half as Waiters scored two buckets and drilled two threes, dropping Hardaway Jr. with a crossover before one three-point attempt. However, the Knicks’ rookie answered with two long-range triples of his own, bringing the New Orleans crowd to life.
“We were just trying to do a great job of just getting the fans involved,” Hardaway said.
“It was kind of dead in there and we just wanted to just start something, a little 1-on-1 battle here and there, and it was great.”
Waiters gave Team Hill a 126-124 lead with his second straight long ball, an advantage they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
For Team Hill, Bradley Beal also added 21 points, five rebounds and four steals. While reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard contributed 13 points, five assists and five rebounds in the first of five All-Star Weekend events he is participating in.
Team Webber also received valuable contributions from Anthony Davis (16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Michael Carter-Williams (17 points, nine assists and six rebounds).
With only two of the top 10 picks in the 2013 draft invited to this year’s game (No. 2 Victor Oladipo and No. 9 Trey Burke), the shift from the old rookies vs. sophomores format seems validated.
Players are now drafted from a pool of invitees. TNT analysts Grant Hill and Chris Webber were tasked with selecting this year’s teams.