LOS ANGELES, Feb. 13 (Ticker) -- Amaré Stoudemire
set a got milk? Rookie Challenge record with 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds Friday as he upstaged LeBron James
and Carmelo Anthony
in leading the Sophomores to a 142-118 rout of the Rookies in the opening event of NBA All-Star Weekend.
All of the attention centered around James and Anthony, the top rookies in the NBA who have a developing rivalry but were teammates for one night. While they treated a STAPLES Center crowd to an array of high-flying moves, they were no match for a strong squad of second-year players led by Stoudemire, the forward of the Phoenix Suns.
Stoudemire shot 17-for-23.|
Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty Images
The first player to win got milk? Rookie of the Year after entering the NBA directly from high school, the 6-9 Stoudemire appeared to be a man among boys. In a game devoid of defense, his power game was too much to handle and earned him Most Valuable Player honors.
"It's like a dream come true, you know?" he said. "Out here in L.A., the All-Star Weekend, capture the MVP, broke a record -- it's amazing."
Stoudemire made 17-of-23 shots, most of them ferocious hammer dunks. One of his few misses hit the back rim so hard it flew over the scorer's table at midcourt.
"It's all about having fun and that's what we did," Stoudemire said.
"He's a great player," James said. "He's the most athletic big man I've seen in a long time."
In a game that set a handful of offensive records, Stoudemire eclipsed the scoring mark of 31 shared by Kobe Bryant (1997) and Jason Richardson (2003). The teams shattered the total points record of 244 set last year and combined for a ridiculous 184 points in the paint.
"We were running plays. The plays were defensive plays to not guard anybody and to move out of the way," said Sophomores forward Mike Dunleavy of the Golden State Warriors.
The Sophomores have won three of the five games under the current format.
James, the guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Anthony, the forward of the Denver Nuggets, were sensational early, when the game was still a game, and late, when it turned into a dunk contest. James scored 33 points, Anthony had 17 and the duo collaborated on several jaw-dropping plays.
"I know his game, he knows my game," James said. "We feel comfortable playing together."
Stoudemire had plenty of help from Cleveland Cavaliers forward Carlos Boozer, who scored 25 points, and Seattle SuperSonics guard Ronald "Flip" Murray, who added 25 and 10 assists.
With some help from Detroit Pistons swingman Tayshaun Prince, who scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half, the Sophomores raced to a 72-59 halftime advantage and never looked back, leading by as many as 30 points.
In the early going, Anthony set up James with a scoop lob pass for a dunk before the pair got together on a fantastic play. James made a steal, threw a long leakout pass to Anthony, then raced downcourt and thundered home a return lob.
"It was just fun tonight to be on the court with him," Anthony said.
But the inside presence of Stoudemire and Boozer, Murray's penetration game and Prince's 3-point shooting was too much to handle for the Rookies, who put up very little resistance.
"We tried to play some defense, but we were so hot on the offensive end that we wanted to get up down in a hurry," said Prince, who had three 3-pointers in less than two minutes.
The second half turned into an episode of the Entertainers Basketball Classic. Stoudemire had six dunks in the second half, including an alley-oop finish from Murray that made it 140-110 with 1:41 to go.
With defenders standing at the 3-point arc and leaving the basket unprotected, James and Prince traded through-the-legs dunks that brought oohs and aahs from the crowd. After the horn sounded, James threw his sneakers into the crowd.
"It was about entertaining the fans, and I thought you got a good idea that these young men could play at a very high level," winning coach Michael Cooper said. "There really was no defense played and that was by design."