Utah Jazz fans who tuned into the NBA Rising Stars Challenge to see two of their own — Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors — got what they expected: A game with no defense that essentially turned into a dunk contest.
That no-defense aspect provided for a whole lot of alley-oops and even more points, as Team Chuck outscored Team Shaq 146-133 on Friday.
The teams were named after their respective "general managers", Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal. Team Chuck was co-coached by Mike Fratello and Oklahoma City assistant Maurice Cheeks, while Team Shaq was led by Steve Kerr and Chicago assistant Ron Adams.
Both Hayward and Favors — who was a replacement for injured Spurs' player Tiago Splitter — were part of the winning Team Chuck squad, and both were more active in the second half.
Hayward entered the game for Team Chuck — which jumped out to an 18-7 lead and had a 77-65 halftime advantage — six minutes in. Favors followed him three minutes later. In their limited first-half action, Favors had a pair of free throws and Hayward recorded a block.
Hayward's swat was contagious, and came just two possessions after teammate John Wall (Wizards), who apparently didn't get the "defense is defined by standing still" memo. Wall came out of nowhere and closed quickly on Miami's Norris Cole.
Both players came into the game again in the second half, again with about 14 minutes left on the clock. Hayward promptly got a dunk after a drive down the middle (albeit not a thunderous one like most in the contest).
Favors then scored a couple baskets, with another Hayward dunk sandwiched in between. Hayward had a scoring drive a few minutes later, followed by a couple free throws.
Cleveland rookie Kyrie Irving of Team Chuck had eight 3-pointers and 34 points to earn the game's MVP award.
Chris, who has been covering sports ranging from high school preps to professional teams for almost twenty years, feels that football season is the best time of the year. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.