Sophomores 132, Rookies 112
Warrior Up to the Challenge
ATLANTA, Feb. 8 -- This may have been the got milk? Rookie Challenge, but for the first 20 minutes, the youngsters got old school on the fans.
In a half that featured a combined 126 points, 30 dunks and absolutely no defense, the Rookies and the Sophomores turned Philips Arena and the game into a good, old-fashioned All-Star track meet.
Arenas became the second consecutive Warrior to win the Rookie Challenge MVP. Jason Richardson was honored as the game's best in Philadelphia. Richardson, who tied Kobe Bryant's Rookie Challenge record of 31 points, was thrilled another Warrior won the award.
"I wanted him to win it," Richardson said.
Arenas wanted to win it too, as he told NBA.com in our Rookie Challenge preview.
"When you're a little kid dreaming about something like this," Arenas said, his crystal trophy already mussed with fingerprints, "you never think it would happen in this life."
The Sophomores almost didn't see it happen as the Rookies took it to them in the first half.
"I was very proud of our rookies to start this game," Fitzsimmons said. "They came out ready to play and really got after it, moved the basketball and played well together.
But once the sophomores got it going, we just couldn't stop them."
It took them a while to get going, as Sophomore coach Mike Fratello noted that the players decided it was time to take control.
"In all honesty, I just didn't feel the game the first half was played the way it was supposed to be played," Fratello said. "I believe in having fun, but I believe in winning also."
So did the Sophomores.
"I really wanted to win and the players did too," Arenas said.
got milk? Rookie Challenge Dunk Breakdown
6 -- Richard Jefferson
5 -- Jason Richardson
3 -- Pau Gasol, Amare Stoudemire
2 -- Gordan Giricek, Caron Butler, Nene Hilario, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko
1 -- Gilbert Arenas, Drew Gooden, Dajuan Wagner
First half total: 30
Second half (after it turned serious):
Second-half total: 7.5
got milk? Rookie Challenge total: 37.5
got milk? Rookie Challenge Bests
Best Dunk: Richardson's first, an in-game windmill. Philips Arena was still buzzing three possessions later.
Best Pass: Tie, Richardson's pass off Boozer's head to himself and Jay Williams's pass to himself off Pau Gasol's back.
Best near assist: Drew Gooden's behind the back alley-oop that Carlos Boozer just missed finishing.
Best (and brightest) shoes: Williams' shiny, tomato-red kicks.
Best advice: A young man sitting courtside wanted Tony Parker's autograph. As Parker reached for the pen to sign a young fan's commemorative All-Star basketball, he popped off the top into the kid's lap.
"Can I give you some advice?" Parker said as he swooshed his name across the red, white and blue ball. "Be ready to have [the cap] off. Most guys won't sign if it isn't off."
Always good to know.
Best trash talk (we could hear and/or print) : "You ain't gonna shoot that," Stoudamire to Arenas in the first half. Arenas did, and missed, one of the few he did miss.
Best lip-synch: Bill Walton singing along with the Canadian national anthem.
Best performance (non-athletic): The six-year old girl who brought down the house with a bluesy rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."
Best special appearance (athletic): Yao Ming, who is playing in the 52nd All-Star Game on Sunday, sat on the bench with the rookies.
Best special appearance (non-athletic): TNT announcer Marv Albert, who helped Fratello "coach" the Sophomores.
Best post-game quote, Part I: "I'm now 1-1. I think this is my last one."
Best post-game quote, Part II: "When I coached here, they had the Omni and they blew that place up. They've blown up a lot of cities where I've coached.
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