The NBA’s All-Star weekend tipped off Friday night with the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Team Chuck bested Team Shaq by a score of 163-135 — and it wasn’t really that close. An arena that was about 75 percent full endured the drubbing and witnessed the coming-out party of Kenneth Faried , who took home the MVP award with 40 points and 10 rebounds. Faried, largely known as a dunker — hence his Slam Dunk Contest invitation — showed flashes of a jumper and even drilled a three-pointer to boost on his way to 18-of-22, only-in-on-All-Star-Weekend performance from the floor. In the postgame presser Faried was asked where his three-point range came from to which he responded, “I always had it. Just don’t pull it out in the games. Coach Karl won’t let me”. While Faried won’t be entering the All-Star Weekend’s three-point contest much to his own chagrin, hopefully he didn’t show his entire repertoire with the myriad of flushes he had tonight. Kyrie Irving once again proved his scoring prowess dropping 32 points in a losing effort for Team Shaq. His late game one on one battle with Pistons’ guard Brandon Knight (10 points) provided some of the evening’s most exciting moments as they took turns trying to crumple each with other dribble moves. Uncle Drew got the best of that battle in the end. Why’d he go after Knight? “Just happened, honestly, a couple of plays down the court with him,” he said after. “But more or less, that kind of rivalry with me and B.Knight has been happening since high school, since we started playing against each other. We were battling for the one and two spot in high school.” … …Isiah Thomas (18 points and 10 assists), Kawhi Leonard (20 points and 7 rebounds), and Tristan Thompson (20 points and 10 rebounds) were also impressive for Team Chuck. Keep in mind they scored 163 points so the numbers were bound to be lofty. … One might have thought Anthony Davis would really come out and dominate but he got lost in the shuffle and this type of game didn’t seem to suit his style. Even Shaq’s No. 1 pick Damian Lillard felt that way. “In these types of games it’s hard to figure out how you’re supposed to play,” he said. “You don’t want to be too cool but you don’t want to be out there looking like it’s a regular game. But it was fun, being out there with some different players, playing a freelance game, it was fun.” … The game wasn’t a slam dunk for the fans in attendance at Toyota Center and it seems to be an event that is slowly getting lost in the hype of the weekend. Most of the actual competitions during the weekend don’t match the hype but that shouldn’t stop the show. It’s still a great way for some of the lesser-known, up-and-coming guys to make a name for themselves. This was a great night for Faried and could be the start of great weekend if the “Manimal” continues to be unleashed. … Hit the jump to hear about a crazy trade rumor …
Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond are one step closer to the Hall of Fame. Those three guards were institutions in the backcourts of the ’90s, which makes it perfect they could be close to being enshrined in an actual one soon. Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian, Tommy Heinsohn, Spencer Haywood, Bernard King and others also made it through to the next round. All those who made the cut now have to sweat out a long six-week wait until the NCAA Final Four, where the inductees are announced. Voters need to get Payton to the Hall ASAP purely so that everyone can hear his speech. We imagine it will be a little like Jordan’s in the “I was better than all y’all” way but a lot more entertaining. … So what do we think of this “preliminary” trade discussion regarding Dwight Howard for Rajon Rondo that was brought up before Rondo’s injury? Steve Nash already isn’t being used well in Los Angeles, so either this is some misguided attempt to jump-start his L.A. tenure, or, go the other direction and put him on an ice floe for good. Dwight in Boston is an interesting idea on the court as Kevin Garnett‘s successor, but we think he’d be like chum in a sea of sharks for the Boston sportswriters. If you struggle, they won’t pull punches. … So apparently Kevin Durant is a style reporter now, though his review of Russell Westbrook‘s ’70’s-inspired coat and tie with camo pants hasn’t been offered yet. … We’re out like Team Shaq.
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