Since the format change during the 2014-15 NBA season, Team World had defeated Team USA in three out of the four games — including the last two.
After 20 points and seven rebounds in his first MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars Game appearance last year at Staples Center, Kyle Kuzma set the tone early a second time around. He scored 14 points in the first quarter and led Team USA to a 161-144 win in Charlotte.
Widely considered the steal of the 2017 NBA Draft, Kuzma finished with 35 points (15-of-27 shooting), six rebounds and two assists in just 22 minutes.
Along with breaking Kobe Bryant’s scoring record in the Rising Stars Game, the 23-year-old was named MVP of the MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars Challenge.
🎥 Kyle Kuzma caught fire early for Team USA, finishing with 35 points and earning MVP honors. pic.twitter.com/gxFrOuV14l
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 16, 2019
As Kuzma was focused on winning for the first time at All-Star Weekend, he received plenty of help from his rookie and sophomore teammates. Highlighted by Trae Young’s 25 points (9-of-19 shooting) and 10 assists off the bench, eight out of the 10 players for Team USA scored in double-figures.
While De’Aaron Fox only had two points, he finished with a game-high 16 assists.
Despite Ben Simmons’ 28 points (14-of-17 shooting), five rebounds and six assists, Team World got within one point numerous times but never took the lead in the second half.
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