Zach LaVine wins MVP as U.S. tops World

Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange

TORONTO -- Zach LaVine was keen to dish out a little payback in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night.

He got it. The Minnesota Timberwolves guard, who started as forward on Friday, scored 30 points and grabbed seven rebounds to earn the game MVP Award and lead the U.S. team to a 157-154 victory over the World team.


The U.S. lost last year's game and LaVine's Timberwolves teammate and friend, forward Andrew Wiggins, won the MVP Award for the game.

"I want MVP because he got it last year," LaVine said before the game.

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After the game, he said. "That's what I was going for. I told you. Y'all saw in that little interview, so it's kind of fun. He got it last year, I got it this year. We won this year, so I think it came down to whatever team won. So we got the W, and that's the main thing. It got really competitive toward the last five minutes, so we started really playing."

The wide-open game was made for outstanding individual performances.

The World team got 30 points from forward Kristaps Porzingis, 21 in the second half, and World guard Emmanuel Mudiay also had 30 points while dishing out 10 assists.

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The game one of the events leading to the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday at Air Canada Centre.

"It was a high-scoring game, as you all saw," Porzingis said. "Not great defense, but it's about having fun, I guess. And I think we had fun out there. In the second half, we got more competitive, as both teams wanted to get the win, and we fell a little short. It never feels good to lose, so I'm not too happy about the loss."

Guard Jordan Clarkson added 25 points for the United States, guard Devin Booker had 23 and guard D'Angelo Russell had 22 while center Karl-Anthony Towns had 18 with seven rebounds.

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Wiggins added 29 points for the World and guard/forward Mario Hezonja had 19 points and 10 rebounds while center Nikola Jokic had 12 points and eight rebounds. Reserve forward/center Dwight Powell contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The game was played in 20-minute halves.

Toronto-native Wiggins, the NBA rookie of the year in 2015, received a huge ovation.

"It felt great," he said. "I got to play in front of a lot of people I haven't seen in a long time. My family and friends got to watch it. It's great being back home and playing for my hometown."


The U.S. team led 88-79 at the end of the first half.

The U.S. team shot 63.2 percent from the floor in the first half and the World hit 65.5 percent of its shots.

On the game, the World shot 60.4 percent from the floor and the U.S. team shot 56 percent.

Wiggins hit two free throws with 49 seconds left in the game to trim the U.S. team's lead to three points.

Forward Jabari Parker clinched the game with a dunk with 15 seconds to play and finished with 12 points.

"You know what? It felt good, not for myself but because my team needed it," Parker said. "It got us (a two-possession lead). And the win, that was big because we represent our country every time we have USA on our chest. We try to do that to the maximum."

NOTES: Phoenix Suns rookie G Devin Booker replaced injured F/C Nerlens Noel of the Philadelphia 76ers on the U.S. team. ...The Minnesota Timberwolves had three players in the game, all 20 years old. They were G/F Andrew Wiggins of the World team and U.S. team members C Karl-Anthony Towns and G Zach LaVine.


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