CHICAGO – Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura showed off his dazzling handles in the Rising Stars Challenge, but his big night for Team World was spoiled by Team USA’s 151-131 victory in the event that tipped off the NBA All-Star weekend.
On Friday night, when the NBA’s first- and second-year players took center stage at the United Center, Hachimura, the first player from Japan to be named to a Rising Stars roster, played 20 minutes and was a standout with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Eight of his points came in the first quarter.
“It all came down to who could run more toward the goal,” said Hachimura, who got many of his points on dunks and midrange jumpers.
Before the game, Hachimura, along with fellow young stars Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves), Brandon Clarke (Memphis Grizzlies) and Ja Morant (Grizzlies), put on a dunk show for the Chicago crowd to enjoy.
Golden State Warriors forward Eric Paschall led Team USA with 23 points, going 10-from-13 from the floor, while also tallying three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Charlotte Hornets sophomore Miles Bridges scored 20 points and was named the game’s MVP.
The game was made up of 10 players from the United States and 10 players from around the world, with all 20 players selected by NBA assistant coaches.
Bridges got the All-Star weekend off to a high-flying start.
So did New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson — even when his dunk attempts didn’t go in.
Cleveland Cavaliers youngster Collin Sexton had 21 points, Atlanta Hawks All-Star Trae Young added 18 and Chicago product Kendrick Young of the Miami Heat chipped in with 16. Williamson scored 14 and had the baskets inside the United Center shaking whether he made or missed.
The No. 1 pick continued to dazzle after his highly anticipated debut for New Orleans got pushed back three months because of right knee surgery. The prized rookie delighted the crowd with several thunderous dunks as well as two impressive misses in the closing minutes.
Williamson attempted a 360, only to have it go flying off the rim. Given a do-over as players on both teams stood and watched, he went between his legs and off the glass only to miss again.
RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks led Team World with 27 points.
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic drew a big roar from the crowd when he banked a 3-pointer from halfcourt just before the halftime buzzer to send Team World to the locker room with an 81-71 lead.
The event helped kick off the first All-Star weekend in the Windy City since 1988, when Michael Jordan thrilled the home crowd at the old Chicago Stadium. Back then, His Airness edged Dominique Wilkins in a Slam Dunk Contest that arguably remains the standard and scored 40 points to lead the East over the West in the game.
On Friday, Kobe Bryant’s presence loomed large.
Players wore patches featuring the numbers 2 and 24 surrounded by nine stars in honor of the Lakers great and his daughter, Gianna, who were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.