Los Angeles Lakers second-year forward Kyle Kuzma was named MVP of the 2019 MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars Challenge in Charlotte. He scored 35 points to lead Team USA to their first win over the World in two years.
Overall, it’s just USA’s second win in five games since the NBA switched to the current format. Kuzma got them going early, scoring 14 of Team USA’s 20 points within the first four minutes of the game. He led all players with 23 points at halftime.
Kuzma curiously began the third quarter on the bench and only scored two points upon checking back in. He then ended USA’s scoring drought, throwing down a dunk out of a timeout after they missed 11 consecutive shots.
Kuzma’s 35 points broke Kobe Bryant’s Lakers’ scoring record (31) in the exhibition game. Kevin Durant (46 points in 2009) holds the game’s all-time record.
This season marked the fourth in a row the Lakers had at least one player selected to the Rising Stars Challenge. Lonzo Ball and Kuzma were the 13th and 14th all-time selections the Lakers have had for the showcase (including when it was named the Rookie-Sophomore Game).
They joined Jordan Farmar, D’Angelo Russell and Ingram as Lakers who twice were named to the event. The complete list of Lakers previously selected to appear in the contest are: Ball (2018 and 2019), Kuzma (2018, 2019), Ingram (2018, 2017), Russell (2017, 2016), Jordan Clarkson (2016), Farmar (2007, 2008), Andrew Bynum (2007), Bryant (1997), Derek Fisher (1997), Travis Knight (1997), Eddie Jones (1995, selected MVP), and Nick Van Exel (1994).
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