Evans leads rooks to rare win over NBA sophomores
AP Sports Writer
DALLAS (AP) – Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans had 26 points and San Antonio’s DeJuan Blair had 22 points and 23 rebounds to give the NBA rookies a rare victory over the sophomores, 140-128 in the Rookie Challenge on Friday night.
Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City scored 40 points for the sophomores, but he was one of seven players on the second-year team who were handed a surprising result – consecutive losses in this All-Star weekend event.
The sophomores had won seven straight games and eight of 10 since that format was adopted in 2000.
Evans, the league’s top-scoring rookie and 14th overall with 20.3 points a game, made 11 of 15 shots to go with six rebounds and five assists.
Milwaukee rookie Brandon Jennings had 22 points and eight assists, and James Harden from Oklahoma City also had 22 points.
Westbrook’s 40-point game came a year after Kevin Durant, this year an assistant coach for the rookies, became the first in the game to break the 40-point mark with a record 46.
Blair, who told his teammates before the game that he was going for every rebound, had one of the highlight plays after a turnover by the sophomores in the first half. Stephen Curry flipped the ball to Blair, who threw it off the backboard and grabbed it out of the air before slamming it home.
In the closing seconds of the game, Blair chased down a ball in the corner and scooped it underhand to save it from going out of bounds. After getting back on the court and begging for teammates to get him the ball, he scored despite being tackled by New Jersey’s Brook Lopez under the basket.
Both players were smiling in a pile on the floor after the ball fell through the hoop at the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Mavericks’ home arena. Only Sunday night’s All-Star game will be played at Cowboys Stadium.
Miami’s Michael Beasley, who scored 29 points in last year’s game, had 26 points this time. Golden State’s Anthony Morrow had 15 points and Minnesota’s Kevin Love, who had predicted a lopsided victory for the sophomores, had 12 points and six rebounds. O.J. Mayo from Memphis had eight points and 10 assists.
The rookies had a 55-45 lead with just under 4 minutes left in the first half when Evans converted a scoop shot while falling away and being fouled, and made the free throw.
The sophomores then scored six straight points. Eric Gordon had a basket, then a dunk off on an assist from Mayo. Anthony Morrow drove the baseline for a reverse layup, but the newbies got all those points right back.
Jennings hit long jumper, Jonny Flynn drove for a layup and Jennings then had a breakaway layup to make it 61-51.
The biggest lead for the rookies before halftime was the 67-55 score at the break after Omri Casspi’s 13-foot turnaround fadeaway shot.
Mayo had six assists by halftime, not including helping Gordon against Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan in the first-ever All-Star Slam Dunk-In. DeRozan, not part of the Rookie Challenge game, earned 61 percent of the fan vote to get a spot in the Slam Dunk Contest that is a highlight of the Saturday night activities at the All-Star game.
The rookies hit the 100-point mark with more than 10 minutes left on a short floater by Jennings that made it 100-86.