The NBA started their hardwood action on Friday night with some exciting basketball. After the celebrity game, the nightcap that stole the evening was easily the Rising Stars tournament. The Rising Stars event ushered out a new format this year, allowing 28 players with 12 rookies featuring Rookie of the Year candidates Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Green, 12 sophomores, led by LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards.
The addition of four players from the NBA G League Ignite developmental team with a four-team draft set the stage for three entertaining basketball games. The winners had to get to 50 points in the first round and 25 points in the final round.
Team Worthy vs. Team Isiah (Game to 50):
This was probably one of the more exciting games of the night. Jalen Green sparked Team Worthy, who led everyone in the game in scoring, and the Orlando Magic connection, Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs.
Team Isiah looked like they had things well in hand to go to the next round before Team Worthy went on a massive 15-4 run to put go ahead 40-39. Both teams were neck and neck up to a 48-48 tie.
Then the Cole Anthony effect happened.
With Jalen Suggs on the line to end the game, Anthony said something to Suggs, with the rookie out Gonzaga missing the subsequent free throw.
That left the door for Team Isiah to win the game with Desmond Bane at the line. Anthony had a conversation with him, too, and even pulled down his shorts to distract him! Only for Bane to hit both of his free throws to end things.
Cole Anthony really pulled down his shorts during Bane’s free throw 😂 pic.twitter.com/WLEIBQlfN4— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 19, 2022
Team Isiah defeats Team Worthy 50-49.
Team Barry vs. Team Payton (Game to 50):
While the first game showed a ton of highlight dunks and flashy play, things were a little more structured in this one. Hall of Famer Rick Barry will probably be the only coach in an All-Star event that mandates set plays to start a game, while Gary Payton, also a Hall of Famer, hasn’t lost a bit of competitive fire, too say the least.
Gary Payton was trash talking the ref from the bench 😂 pic.twitter.com/RJ5t4gfEDL— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 19, 2022
For a while, it looked like Team Payton was off to win after a strong start by Timberwolves’ rookie Jaden McDaniels, but crowd favorite Mobley kept things close by dominating down low and getting easy baskets.
But when the Pistons’ number one overall pick, Cunningham, got warmed up, Team Barry’s offense started clicking with their ball movement, and the game turned around.
In a down to the wire affair like the previous first-round game, Team Barry was just disciplined enough to win thanks to two final baskets by Houston Rockets’ Jae’Shan Tate, including this game-winner!
🚨 Jae’Sean Tate takes it to the rack for the win! 🚨— NBA (@NBA) February 19, 2022
Team Barry advances to the #CloroxRisingStars Final, where they’ll face Team Isiah following the #CloroxClutch Challenge on TNT. pic.twitter.com/UO4Twm2BJe
LaMelo Ball almost stole the pass and nearly ripped the ball from Tate in vain, but it was not enough.
Team Barry defeats Team Payton 50-48.
The Clorox Clutch Challenge!
Tyrese Haliburton and Bane were the only players to knock down five shots from positions of famous NBA Finals shots of the past to win the challenge.
What most will remember from this event was Scottie Barnes continually missing the layup part of the competition.
Team Barry vs. Team Isiah (Game to 25):
Just like in the first game, Team Isiah opened up a lead over Team Barry thanks to Toronto Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa’s quick 13 points to get within shouting distance of the targeted 25 points.
But like in the first game, Team Isiah allowed a momentum-stealing run to enable their lead to evaporate. This time it cost them as tournament MVP Cade Cunningham took over, hitting huge shots to help Team Barry triumph over Team Isiah in the championship game with a 13-2 run.
Team Barry wins the tournament over Team Isiah 25-20.