CHICAGO — Team USA found its shooting stroke in the second half and buried Team World 151-131 in the Rising Stars game on Friday to kick off All-Star Weekend festivities at United Center.
The Golden State Warriors’ Eric Paschall led Team USA with 23 points, and the New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett had a game-high 27 points for Team World.
As Team USA put the game away in the fourth, players stepped aside to let Team USA forward Zion Williamson try a series of spectacular dunks. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie star finished 7 of 11 for 14 points.
Team USA’s Miles Bridges of the Charlotte Hornets, who had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, was selected MVP of the game.
“Coaches were getting on the team saying, ‘Are you going to play for real?’” Bridges said of his 13-point surge in the third quarter.
Bench players propelled Team USA into the lead in the third, when the World team was outscored 44-24.
Bridges connected on 3-pointers in back-to-back possessions to cut a 12-point lead in half just inside of the five-minute mark in the third quarter. Three minutes later, Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham made a pair of treys of his own on consecutive possessions, and Team USA had its first lead, 104-103, since the opening minutes of the game.
The Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic sank a shot from half-court with two seconds remaining in the second quarter that helped stake Team World to an 81-71 lead at halftime.
Team USA bailed on a perimeter attack in the second quarter in favor of a barrage of rim-bending dunks highlighted by Williamson’s catch and flush of a lob from the Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant.
Team World opened a 37-24 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter, which included one foul and 24 combined 3-point attempts.