Sophomores 106, Rookies 96
Iguodala Shines as Sophs Top Rookies
HOUSTON, Feb. 17 (Ticker) - Andre Iguodala used the Rookie Challenge to get an early start on the Slam Dunk Contest.
Iguodala had a series of slams as he scored 24 of his 30 points in the second half, leading the Sophomores to an easy 106-96 victory over the Rookies as All-Star Weekend began Friday night.
After a quiet first half, Iguodala erupted with a flurry of dunks and 3-pointers as the Sophomores notched their fourth straight win. He made 13-of-17 shots - two of the misses were dunks - and was named MVP. Eight of the first 11 Rookie Challenge MVPs went on to play in at least one All-Star Game.
"A lot of great players have started out with this award, so hopefully the dream can continue," Iguodala said. In a sequence early in the second half, Iguodala had an alley-oop dunk, a 3-pointer and a breakaway rock-the-cradle dunk that gave the Sophomores a 61-48 lead.
Entered in Saturday's Slam Dunk Contest, Iguodala added a flying one-handed slam and a hammer jam off a lob off the backboard from Dallas guard Devin Harris to make it 69-53 with 14:06 to go.
Perhaps Iguodala's best dunk didn't count. A perimeter foul was called just as he began takeoff for through-the-legs one-hander that wowed the crowd at the Toyota Center.
"Tonight is different and (Saturday) I have a few things up my sleeve," said Iguodala, who scored 11 points as a rookie in this game last year. "Everything you saw today, you have seen before.
"When I am comfortable and am out there playing freely and confident like tonight, the sky is the limit," Iguodala said.
Chicago Bulls guard Ben Gordon scored 17 points and Boston Celtics guard Delonte West added 15 off the bench for the Sophomores, who shot 53 percent (46-of-87). "I thought Ben Gordon was going to get the MVP and I was actually looking forward to seeing him get it," Iguodala admitted. "I had no clue I would have this kind of chance this year. I just came here wanting to give us a chance to win the game."
Toronto Raptors forward Charlie Villanueva had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Houston Rockets guard Luther Head also scored 18 points for the Rookies, who shot 46 percent (39-of-85) but made just 7-of-26 3-pointers.
"It was a great night," Head said. "It's all about the fans, especially here in Houston. You know you have to give them something to cheer for." Gordon scored 12 points in a sloppy first half, helping the Sophs to a 52-45 lead. It was the lowest-scoring first half since the game went to 20-minute halves in 2001.