Charles Barkley earned some bragging rights over Shaquille O’Neal for another year when his band of rookies and sophomores scored a huge win in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Kenneth Faried went for a game-high 40 points for the victorious team, with every Team Chuck player reaching double figures in scoring except Ricky Rubio (who made up for it with 10 assists).
Kyrie Irving dropped 32 points in the loss. None were more entertaining than the mano a mano battle he had with Brandon Knight late in the second half, although “battle” is being generous to Knight. Irving made the Pistons guard slip and slide as the Cavs guard drilled a step-back 3-pointer. Irving’s teammate Dion Waiters, one of four Cleveland players in the game, scored 23 points for Team Shaq.
Second half, 5:20, Chuck 141-118: All right, Kyrie Irving reminded Brandon Knight who the All-Star in this competition is.
The reigning rookie of the year crossed up the second-year man from the Pistons and sent Knight slipping to the court. Irving rose up for a step-back jumper over the floor-bound Knight, who is outmatched.
Second half, 13:55, Chuck 109-90: Somebody should tell Faried about “the agreement.” As long he does not play real defense, nobody else will, either.
Faried challenged a couple of his opponents’ dunk attempts, catching Anthony Davis more by surprise than anything. Still, give Faried credit. The smile never leaves his face, and he does not seem concerned that this game does not count. He is having a ball and has 25 points to show for it.
Halftime, Chuck 90-66: Neither team is running their sets, and on defense they are not effectively keeping the guards from dribble pene– aw, screw it. Who are we kidding?
Any possession that does not involve ample dribbling and fancy passing is a waste of time here. This exhibition is about keeping casual fans entertained, and the best way to do that is with behind-the-back passes and dunks. The fact that Ricky Rubio has played only nine minutes is criminal.
Faried is one of a few Chucksters filling up the box score. The Nuggets forward has 19 points while Thomas has 14 points and seven assists.
First half, 4:54, Chuck 65-45: OK, somebody remind us again why Thomas was the last pick in the 2011 draft.
Thomas is making his first- and second-year brethren look silly, piling up a game-high 14 points with five assists already. The 5-foot-9 point guard out of U-Dub is making guys like Irving and Lillard, who were picked much higher in their respective drafts, look pretty silly. Thomas has not even committed a turnover yet.
The long-range barrage just keeps coming, too. Kenneth Faried drilled a 3-pointer to get in on the action and the “Manimal” had a bit of fun. His sneakers also are hideous, in case you were wondering, but not nearly as hideous as Craig Sager’s shiny suit.
First half, 9:27, Chuck 40-29: The winners thus far in the battle who can play the better token defense are anybody who can hit a long-range shot. Right now, those guys are playing for the Chuckster.
Chuck’s squad is 6-for-10 from deep, including Isaiah Thomas’ perfect 3-for-3. Thomas’ shooting excellence is almost enough to forgive his red and yellow shoes, which do not exactly go with his purple and silver Kings motif.
First half, 16:50, Chuck 13-9: Pretty much everyone with a public platform said before this game that Team Shaq was the clear favorite, but nobody should have told that to the guys on Team Chuck. The Chucksters lead early as their general manager chose not to join his opponent on the court before the game.
The most interesting thing so far here is the shoes. There is a lot of lime green and neon yellow, so if the actual play is not unsightly enough, the fashion choices make this an outright eyesore.
9:17 p.m.: Tip-off is just a few minutes away, so here are your starters.
8:39: Hopefully Walker will give all the UConn fans enough to root for, because a former Husky was scratched from the roster. Drummond suffered a back injury last week and will be out up to six weeks, so Magic rookie Andrew Nicholson, a St. Bonaventure product, will take his place.
8 p.m. ET: The next generation is set to show of its skills before the current stars get to work in Houston. The top first- and second-year players will take the hardwood at the Toyota Center on Friday for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, which pits Team Chuck against Team Shaq.
Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal drafted their teams on live TV, with Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis as the top picks. Kyrie Irving, who will take part in the real All-Star Game on Sunday, was selected after the rookies just in case the Cleveland point guard decides to limit his minutes or sit out entirely for the rookie-sophomore game.
The rosters appear below.
Damian Lillard (Portland)
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland)
Klay Thompson (Golden State)
Harrison Barnes (Golden State)
Chandler Parsons (Houston)
Dion Waiters (Cleveland)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte)
Tyler Zeller (Cleveland)
Kemba Walker (Charlotte)
Andre Drummond (Detroit)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
Kenneth Faried (Denver)
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio)
Bradley Beal (Washington)
Ricky Rubio (Minnesota)
Tristan Thompson (Cleveland)
Nikola Vucevic (Orlando)
Brandon Knight (Detroit)
Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento)
Alexey Shved (Minnesota)
Join us for updates and analysis — whatever “analysis” entails in an exhibition game where defense and strategy will be optional — for the game, which is scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. ET.