Friday, December 13, 2019
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Drummond shines in battle of wannabe NBA stars

New Orleans: Andre Drummond had 30 points and 25 rebounds to lead Team Hill to a 142-136 victory over Team Webber on Friday in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge, part of the All-Star weekend festivities.

A 41 per cent free throw shooter during the regular season, the Detroit Pistons forward went 6 for 8 from the line, including a pair with 29 seconds left after chasing down Bradley Beal’s missed free throw to give his team a five-point lead.

Cleveland’s Dion Waiters had 31 points, mostly coming during a 1-on-1 duel with New York’s Tim Hardaway Jr. in the second half. Beal finished with 21 for Team Hill, picked by former NBA star Grant Hill.

Hardaway scored 36 points for fellow former NBA star Chris Webber’s squad. Philadelphia rookie Michael Carter-Williams had 17 points.

The annual game that began as a matchup of top rookies and later turned into rookies against second-year players now mixes the rosters. That’s probably a good thing, since this year’s crop of first-year players is so underwhelming.

Drummond and Waiters are second-year players, while Hardaway and Carter-Williams are rookies. Portland’s Damian Lillard, also a second-year player, had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists in the victory, making him 1 for 1 during the busiest All-Star weekend ever.

Lillard, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, will take part in five events — three more on All-Star Saturday and the All-Star game on Sunday. All-Stars such as Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Kyrie Irving watched the Rising Stars game, with Irving leaping to his feet at one point after watching Waiters, his Cavaliers teammate, try to take over the game with about eight minutes to play.

Waiters had two baskets and then two 3-pointers, one of them when he stepped back after faking a move to the basket that made Hardaway lose his balance. Hardaway answered back with two 3-pointers of his own as the crowd roared.

Waiters then clinched the duel when he knocked the ball free for a rare defensive highlight in the game, nailing his second straight 3-pointer to give his team the lead for good at 126-124 with 2:44 left.

Drummond followed with a dunk for a four-point advantage, and Team Webber could never catch up. Only two of the top 10 picks in the 2013 NBA draft were invited to this game — No. 2 Victor Oladipo and No. 9 Trey Burke.