Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Murray, Hield lead World over the US

GETTING HOT:The Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player after scoring 36 points, with nine-of-14 shooting from outside the arc

AP, NEW ORLEANS

The World’s Buddy Hield, center, of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots the ball over the US’ Frank Kaminsky, left, of the Charlotte Hornets in the Rising Stars Challenge at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Friday.

Photo: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY

Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield each had moments when they caught the ball in the low post, only to dribble right out to the corner, turn and let fly a three-point shot.

Maybe not the most fundamental approach, but the way they were scoring in the Rising Stars Challenge, no one seemed to mind — certainly not the fans.

Murray had 36 points and 11 assists as the World squad beat the US 150-141 on Friday night.

Hield, a New Orleans Pelicans rookie, added 28 points to the delight of locals, who will want to see more of that when the regular season resumes.

“I was feeling it. I was just playing within the game, and I wasn’t trying to force it,” Murray said. “You never know when I’m going to go off... The guys were telling me to shoot it. Fans were telling me to shoot it. Guys were trying to get me open, so I was just trying to take advantage of that.”

The game featuring top rookies and second-year professionals is the main event on the first night of NBA All-Star weekend. While the final score demonstrated the sport’s global gains, both teams had their fair share of highlights.

Canadian Murray, a Denver Nuggets rookie out of Kentucky, went nine of 14 on three-pointers and was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

“He got hot. Coach is like: ‘Give Jamal the ball,’” Hield said. “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.’ I want to show out and I want to get MVP, but he got hot, man. This wasn’t my time. He deserved it. When a guy’s hot, you got to give him the ball. I don’t care who it is. Hats off to him.”

Hield, a Bahamian, shot 11 of 22 overall, but just three of 12 from deep. Hield’s regular-season high is 21 points, but he has averaged fewer than nine points in an inconsistent first season out of Oklahoma.

Murray essentially sealed the game by hitting three three-pointers in a span of 49 seconds late in the game.

World coach Mike Brown said he was going to call every play for Murray, “even though we didn’t have any plays, but it was easy, because his teammates were yelling every time the other team scored it or we got a rebound, his teammates were yelling: ‘Don’t pass, Jamal! Don’t pass!’ So he took that to heart and he made some big shots for us.”

Latvian Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks added 24 points.

Frank Kaminsky of the Charlotte Hornets scored 33 for the US team and Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota scored 24, highlighted by his dunk of Phoenix guard Devin Booker’s half-court lob.

“We didn’t come up with the win, but we had a good time out there. We had a lot of fun,” said Booker, who had 17 points. “The weekend isn’t over for me. I still have the Skills Challenge, so I’m looking forward to that.”

There was not a whole lot of defense. Both teams shot close to 60 percent and neither team was fouled enough to attempt double-digit free throws.

When the teams did not score, it was often because a brazen or flamboyant pass sailed wide of its target for a turnover.

The US had 18 turnovers, the World squad 13.

Croatian Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers added 17 points for the World, outscoring his American Sixers teammate Jahlil Okafor, who had 10 points.

However, Okafor, who is reportedly on the trade block, only played 14 minutes, 34 seconds — less than any other US player — in the 40-minute contest and made the most of his shots, going five of six.

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