There’s something about the Rising Stars Challenge that doesn’t quite work, despite the changes it has gone through over the years. Andre Drummond was the star of the latest edition, leading Team Hill to a 142-136 win over Team Webber.
It’s not that Drummond is exactly the perfect player for these kind of exhibition nights, but strange things happen in the rookie/sophomore game, which has become a battle between general managers who are in fact NBA TV analysts. But he was hungrier than everyone, finishing with 30 points and 25 rebounds, grabbing everything in sight, even when his own teammates were the ones about to come up with the board.
We were just trying to do a great job of just getting the fans involved. 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.
But seeing him wasn’t the most interesting or entertaining part of the night. That award probably goes to Tim Hardaway dueling with Dion Waiters. Hardaway was on team Webber, leading the team with 36 points. He got into something of a long range battle with Waiters, who scored 31 points. The two guarded each other, and kept launching 3-point shots above one another, but with sportmanship. Waiters put Hardaway on the ground, but waited for him to get up before commencing.
Hardaway also showed he has learned a thing or two from J.R. Smith, trying to untie Drummond’s shoe at one point while they were teeing off to battle for a rebound after a free throw.
Maybe the most memorable moment from the game came after it was over. Drummond was about to be presented with the MVP award, but the presenter forgot’s it’s a two-piece object, and it crashed to the floor into two pieces, something that also happened last season. Drummond didn’t seem to mind.
It happened last year, too, so I wasn’t expecting anything less. Usually a slip-up happens every year with the trophy. So I wasn’t too shocked about that.
The game had two “senior” All-Star selections in Damian Lillard, beginning his super busy All-Star weekend with 13 points and 5 assists for Team Hill, while Anthony Davis had 14 points and 8 rebounds for Team Webber.
Out of the rookies, the two best were on the losing side. Michael Carter-Williams scored 17 points, adding 6 rebounds and 9 assists, enjoying at least one night off from the awfulness that has become the 76ers’ season, and Mason Plumlee, facing off against his brother, scoring 20 points and 7 rebounds, showing that the most important thing to have in this kind of game is energy, effort and not wasting time in showing off certain skills that Plumlee doesn’t really have.