The NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge got All-Star Weekend off on a high note on Friday night.
Former AAU teammates Ja Morant and Zion Williamson put on an absolute show in the first half of the U.S. vs. the World matchup at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend kick-off event in Chicago.
Playing for the U.S. team, the Grizzlies’ Morant found the Pelicans’ Williamson for explosive dunks on three highlight-reel lobs, capped by an insane between-the-legs lob on a fast break late in the first half.
Earlier in the first quarter, Morant found Williamson for a 50+ foot lob from beyond half-court.
The rim and backboard at the United Center took an absolute beating from Williamson’s dunks in the first half and had to be repaired at halftime.
Imagine the thought of having to defend the combination of Morant and Williamson on a nightly basis? The two grew up an hour away from each other and teamed up to play on a small-town South Carolina AAU team prior to taking the college basketball world by storm last year.
Williamson and Morant were selected No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the 2019 NBA Draft.
U.S. Beats World Team 151-131 in Rising Stars Challenge
Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge was electric from start to finish, as the U.S. blew by the World team, 151-131, in a game that featured high-flying highlights and little resistance on the defensive end.
Mavericks’ All-Star guard Luka Doncic had the United Center buzzing when he hit a half court three-point shot at the halftime buzzer that gave the World team an 81-71 lead heading into the locker room.
The U.S. took charge in the third quarter and didn’t look back in the fourth. The Charlotte Hornets’ Miles Bridges capped the third quarter effort when he threw the ball off the backboard to himself for a huge dunk. Bridges scored 20 points and was named MVP for the game.
Williamson finished the game with 14 points. With the game out of reach in the final two minutes, the players backed off and let Williamson have the stage for his own personal dunk competition but the big man failed to complete a few massive slams that would have probably won him a dunk contest if he threw them down in competition.
The Knicks’ freshman guard RJ Barrett led the way for the World with 27 points.
All-Star Saturday Night will kick-off at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and feature the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and the AT&T Slam Dunk competition. The 69th NBA All-Star Game caps the weekend on Sunday beginning at 8 p.m. on TNT.