Bogdan Bogdanovic Wins MVP, Leads World Past USA in 2018 Rising Stars Challenge

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 16: Buddy Hield #24 of the World Team shoots the ball against the USA team during the Mountain Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Game during All-Star Friday Night as part of 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend at the STAPLES Center on February 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Behind Bogdan Bogdanovic's MVP performance that included 26 points and six assists, the World dominated Team USA in a 155-124 win at the 2018 Rising Stars Challenge on Friday. 

This marks the most lopsided victory for either team in the Rising Stars Challenge since the NBA switched to the USA vs. World format in 2015. The previous three games were each decided by fewer than 10 points. 

As is customary in these NBA All-Star Weekend exhibition games, there was minimal defense played on both sides. The World took advantage of its many openings to shoot a robust 58.7 percent from the field. The iron wasn't as kind to the United States, which ended up going 11-of-40 shooting from three-point range. 

Playing in his second straight Rising Stars Challenge, Buddy Hield has looked right at home in this environment. The Sacramento Kings star finished with a team-high 29 points in the win. 

Not to be outdone, Bogdanovic, Hield's Sacramento teammate, came off the World's bench to show his shooting touch from far beyond the arc:


Bogdan Bogdanovic from DEEP! #KickstartRisingStars 📺: @NBAonTNT https://t.co/hkCuaWgWZy

Bogdanovic jokingly brought up the topic of himself and Hield taking on Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in a three-point contest prior to the Rising Stars Challenge. 

“I wish one day, me and Buddy can be out there," he said, via Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee“I think we can beat Klay and Curry."

The World team also had the services of Joel Embiid, who was unable to play in this game last year because of a knee injury. The Philadelphia 76ers big man didn't miss his chance to show off his driving skills now that he's healthy:

2018 NBA All-Star @NBAAllStar

#JoelEmbiid 🌪️🌪️🌪️ #KickstartRisingStars https://t.co/YbFqRmDKPZ

Marshall Harris of NBC Sports Philadelphia liked what he saw from Embiid on that drive to the hoop:

Marshall Harris @mharrisonair

Yeah...Embiid can do that. Head fake and gooooooooo... (I like how Don Mitchell tried to help late btw) #JoelEmbiid

The Sixers were well represented in this game with Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons all playing on the World side. 

While Embiid was showing off his grace, Simmons decided to use his power on a highlight-reel dunk with three USA defenders around him:


Ben Simmons barrels to the rim to for the slam! #KickstartRisingStars #PhantomCam https://t.co/UXHO2yVcVX

It may not have been lost on Simmons that he could send a message to the NBA after previously expressing his displeasure with not being named to Sunday's All-Star Game as an injury replacement:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Ben Simmons disagrees with the selection process. https://t.co/p5QwUnoZ80

Despite a bad night overall for the United States, there were plenty of highlights to go around for individual players. Jaylen Brown led all scorers with 35 points and auditioning for the next AND1 Mixtape:


Jaylen Brown with the handles and shot to match! #KickstartRisingStars 📺: @NBAonTNT https://t.co/73bd6QMVAH

Los Angeles Lakers breakout rookie Kyle Kuzma put together a strong night, finishing his first Rising Stars Challenge with 20 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. 

Lakers reporter Mike Trudell did note the team's young players have been racking up a lot of miles after Friday's exhibition game:

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

Priority No. 1 from a Lakers perspective was to keep Kuzma and Ingram healthy considering this was their 3 game in 3 nights. That was accomplished as both watch the final 4 minutes from the bench.

Kuzma and Brandon Ingram both played fewer than 20 minutes in the game. Lonzo Ball, who was scheduled to play in this showcase, is nursing a knee injury that has kept him out of action for 15 games.

The Lakers need their core to be healthy in the second half to properly evaluate where their roster is at heading into the offseason. They were able to come out of the Rising Stars Challenge unscathed, so it was a good night for the franchise. 


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