Kyle Kuzma Wins MVP, Leads USA Past World in 2019 Rising Stars Challenge

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2019

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 15: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the U.S. Team handles the ball against the World Team during the 2019 Mtn Dew ICE Rising Stars Game on February 15, 2019 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Getting revenge after back-to-back losses, Team USA defeated the World 161-144 in the 2019 Rising Stars Challenge at Spectrum Center as part of NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The American team won thanks in large part to having four players—Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young—score at least 20 points. De'Aaron Fox was essentially the designated passer, finishing with 16 assists, third-most in Rising Stars Challenge history. 

Looking fresh after two days off, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was named MVP after posting a game-high 35 points. 

Through two quarters, Kuzma was on pace to tie the Rising Stars Challenge record of 46 points set by Kevin Durant in 2009. 

Sam Esfandiari of the Light Years podcast had some fun at the Lakers' expense while watching Kuzma go off in this game:

There were plenty of other players who got in on the scoring barrage for the United States. John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks offered a tease of what he's capable of doing in the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night:

Hawks fans haven't had much to cheer for during this rebuilding season, but Collins and Trae Young gave them something to be excited about Friday night:

Young tried to provide another highlight, though he was unable to finish his Allen Iverson-esque crossover attempt against Josh Okogie:

The Hawks rookie did flirt with a triple-double in the win:

One year after scoring 15 points in his Rising Stars debut, Tatum made his presence felt in an even bigger way this time around. The Boston Celtics star finished with 30 points and nine rebounds, presumably feeling the heat after his son grabbed the spotlight during practice earlier in the day:

Ben Simmons went off for the World in the opening quarter, scoring 12 points in the first five minutes en route to a team-high 28 points. 

The Philadelphia 76ers star teased fans during pregame warm-ups by making a three-pointer:

Unfortunately, Simmons didn't follow through with it after the game tipped off. He was still able to satisfy the audience by driving to the basket:

It was a fairly quiet night for rookie sensation Luka Doncic, who finished with 13 points and nine assists, though he did get one gorgeous no-look alley-oop to Lauri Markkanen in the third quarter:

Markannen was the only player other than Simmons who scored at least 20 points for the World team. He finished the first half on fire, with at least 20 points in each of his last six games. The Bulls haven't had many things go right this season, but the 21-year-old is a good sign of hope. 

Nobody in Charlotte is paying to see defense this weekend, so the NBA's brightest young stars were able to put on a scoring clinic for the crowd in attendance. The two teams shot an identical 55.4 percent overall, combined for 92 assists and a Rising Stars-record 305 total points.

It's been apparent all season the future of the NBA is in great hands. That was proven throughout this game, especially with new arrivals like Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton having plenty of room to keep growing before hitting their ceiling. 

Related

    Russ Proved He Can Still Carry Thunder, but Is It Enough?

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Russ Proved He Can Still Carry Thunder, but Is It Enough?

    Sean Highkin
    via Bleacher Report

    Boban Proving He's More Than a 7'3" 'Cartoon'

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Boban Proving He's More Than a 7'3" 'Cartoon'

    Yaron Weitzman
    via Bleacher Report

    Best-and-Worst-Case Scenarios for NBA's Top Prospects

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Best-and-Worst-Case Scenarios for NBA's Top Prospects

    Jonathan Wasserman
    via Bleacher Report

    Siakam Much More Than NBA's Most Improved Player

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Siakam Much More Than NBA's Most Improved Player

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report