NEW ORLEANS — The World is back on top, at least when it comes to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.
In year three of the USA against the World format, the World came from behind to grab a 150-141 win, thanks to big performances from New Orleans Pelicans guard Buddy Hield and Denver guard Jamal Murray.
Murray, a Canadian native, got hot late and knocked down a total of nine threes, finishing the game with 36 points in 20 minutes and winning game MVP honors. The Bahamas native Hield went for 28 points and 6 boards, but took a back seat to Murray down the stretch as Murray couldn’t seem to miss.
“I was just shooting like I normally shoot,” Murray understated after the game. “I wasn’t trying to think about MVP or how many points I had, I was just playing."
He later admitted, “I wasn’t second-guessing. I was just taking heat checks.”
While Hield admitted he harbored hopes of winning the MVP award in front of his home NBA crowd, even he was impressed by Murray’s offensive exploits. “When a guy is hot, you can’t be selfish and not give the guy the ball,” Hield said of Murray’s performance. “Hats off to him, man.”
“It was easy for [Murray]” down the stretch, said World coach Mike Brown. “Every time he’d get the ball, his teammates were yelling, ‘Don’t pass Jamal! Don’t pass!’”
Since adopting the U.S. against the World format, the teams had previously split the results. After a 121-112 win by the World in 2015, the U.S. bounced back with a 157-154 win in 2016. The lone common thread has been MVP performances by players from the Minnesota Timberwolves—Andrew Wiggins in 2015, and Zach LaVine in 2016.
The World team led 77-66 at the half, but Team USA pulled ahead in the second half behind the play of Charlotte’s Frank Kaminsky and San Antonio’s Jonathon Simmons. Kaminsky finished with 27 points to lead Team USA, and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 24 points and 11 boards.