NBA Rising Stars Challenge 2017: Score, MVP, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2017

As part of the NBA's All-Star showcase, the World defeated Team USA 150-141 behind Jamal Murray's MVP performance in the 2017 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge in New Orleans on Friday.     

Just as the NBA All-Star Game is basically a highlight reel for the world's best players to one-up each other, the Rising Stars Game is designed to let the brightest first- and second-year players dazzle the fans. 

Even though he wasn't able to participate because of a knee injury, Philadelphia 76ers breakout star Joel Embiid offered his perspective:

New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, who should be playing during the Sunday portion of All-Star Weekend soon, showed off the shooting touch that has made him the face of his franchise:

World teammates Porzingis and Buddy Hield ended up going back and forth for a while. They were the only World players who scored in double figures during the first half and finished with a combined 52 points. 

Porzingis' excellent effort prompted this sarcastic bit of feedback from Al Iannazzone of Newsday:

Hield, who has endured a difficult rookie season with the New Orleans Pelicans, finally had a moment to shine on the national stage. 

Yet Porzingis and Hield wound up taking a backseat, especially in the second half, when Jamal Murray caught fire. The Denver Nuggets rookie had a game-high 36 points on 9-of-14 shooting from three-point range to take home MVP honors. 

Murray wasn't afraid to get his teammates involved and made this fantastic alley-oop pass to Hield:

As impressive as that connection was, Nikola Jokic's no-look fake to Porzingis was one of the best moments of the game:

Even though the United States came up short in its quest for victory, it had no shortage of its own highlights.

Frank Kaminsky would have made a great case for MVP if the U.S. had won. He led the team with 33 points and made nine of his 13 three-pointers. 

Locked On Hornets offered this summation of what Kaminsky was able to do Friday night:

Behind Kaminsky, Karl-Anthony Towns showcased all of the skills that make him one of the NBA's best talents already at the age of 21. The Minnesota Timberwolves standout had 24 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. 

Embiid even had a suggestion for a different approach to the United States vs. World format based on what he was seeing:

One of the less heralded players in this game had his moment in the spotlight, as San Antonio Spurs guard Jonathon Simmons threw down this dunk after receiving an alley-oop pass:

RealGM did tweet a pertinent question about Simmons' presence in this game:

At 27 years old, Simmons is on the older side for a Rising Star. He's far from the oldest player to take part in this game, though. Pero Antic was on Grant Hill's team in 2014 at the age of 31 but didn't play because of an injury. 

Friday's event was the perfect appetizer to satisfy NBA fans who are preparing for a thrilling All-Star Weekend. The Rising Stars Challenge helps usher in the next generation of players, and Murray, Porzingis, Towns and Kaminsky were all well-regarded prospects when they were drafted.

They showed that potential at the Smoothie King Center this night. 

 

Postgame Reaction

Murray didn't try to do anything out of the ordinary on his way to the MVP award. 

"I was just shooting like I normally shoot," Murray said, per NBA.com. "I wasn't trying to think about MVP or how many points I had; I was just playing. ... I wasn't second-guessing. I was just taking heat checks."

Mike Brown, who coached the World, offered a little more insight into how Murray was able to put up 36 points. 

"It was easy for [Murray]," he said. "Every time he'd get the ball, his teammates were yelling, 'Don't pass, Jamal! Don't pass!'"

Hield had no hard feelings toward Murray for swiping the MVP trophy that appeared headed in his direction entering the fourth quarter. 

"He got hot. Coach is like, 'Give Jamal the ball,'" Hield said, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "When a guy is hot, you can't stop him from being hot. You can't be selfish and say, 'OK, I want to show out.'"

On the losing side, U.S. star Devin Booker took comfort in knowing his All-Star experience isn't over quite yet. 

"We didn't come up with the win, but we had a good time out there," he told the AP. "We had a lot of fun. The weekend isn't over for me. I still have the Skills Challenge [Saturday night], so I'm looking forward to that."

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