The Minnesota Timberwolves were represented by Josh Okogie on Friday night in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge as Team USA defeated Team World by a final score of 161-144.
After not having a participant in last year’s edition of the NBA Rising Stars Challenge, Josh Okogie represented the Minnesota Timberwolves and Nigeria while suiting up for Team World.
Kyle Kuzma put up 35 points and six rebounds and Trae Young had 25 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds, leading Team USA to a 161-144 victory. Ben Simmons put up led Team World with 28 points in the loss. Simmons had 18 at halftime on 9-of-10 shooting while Kuzma had 23 at the break on 15 attempts, but both players cooled off a bit after halftime.
Okogie came off the bench and played nine minutes in the first half, putting up six points on 3-of-5 shooting on a couple of dunks and a layup. He also had two assists and pulled down a rebound.
The Wolves rookie started the second half for the Wolves and had a couple of highlight plays en route to finishing with 13 points (6-10 FG, 0-2 3P, 1-1 FT), four assists, and four rebounds.
Team USA built a quick double-digit lead before Team World got back within a couple of points midway through the second quarter, but the USA used a quick run to build their lead back up to 12 at the break.
The second half featured more of the same, with neither team buckling down on defense until … well, never. The officials didn’t call any fouls until late, although they did suddenly decide to buckle down in the final frame.
Oh, also, Karl-Anthony Towns was courtside supporting his teammate, jersey and all.
Rising Star Challenge Awards
Let’s run down the awards from the game. First, the real award, and then some made-up ones.
Most Valuable Player
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (Team USA)
Kyle Kuzma won the actual award, but we’re gonna stick with Young.
Despite Kuzma’s huge first half, the Lakers forward took a whopping 27 shots to get his 35 points and was only 3-of-10 from beyond the arc. Sorry, Kyle. Award-hunting doesn’t get him DWW’s version of the award.
Young, on the other hand, came on strong in the second half, finishing with 25 points (9-19 FG, 6-11 3P, 1-2 FT), 10 assists, and seven rebounds in 24 minutes. He also dribbled between the legs of his defender twice, once victimizing Okogie. There’s always bonus points for trying those plays in All-Star games.
Honorable mention here is Donovan Mitchell, who had a surprisingly quiet 20 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and five steals.
John Collins, Atlanta Hawks (Team USA)
Collins, who will be in Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest, put on a show. There were a bevy of dunks early in the game, including an off-the-back-board alley-oop to himself.
In the second half, there was a 360-degree (sort of) dunk off of an alley-oop pass.
The honorable mention dunk was a 360-degree dunk from Marvin Bagley III in the games final seconds.
D’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings (Team USA)
There actually weren’t all that many amazing passes in this one. Okogie had a couple of nice kick-outs and a no-look pass in the paint, but nothing that was truly jaw-dropping.
We’ll go with Fox here simply because he somehow had 15 assists while only attempting three shots and finishing with two points in 23 minutes.
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers (Team World)
Fox and Mitchell finished with five steals apiece for Team USA, but Simmons had a couple of impressive steals that led directly to buckets on the other end, so his three steals and all-around highlight package get him this fake award.
We’ll be back on Saturday with All-Star Saturday night coverage. Stay tuned.