Although TEAM CHUCK blew out TEAM SHAQ for the second consecutive year, winning 163-135 in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night in Houston on the first night of All-Star Weekend, there were some bright spots for both squads, including the performances of Orlando Magic big men Nikola Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson.
Vucevic, who played for TEAM CHUCK, tallied 15 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes. Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment of the night, given that he has only attempted two 3-pointers all season, was the fact that he knocked down two shots from behind the arc. Still, Vucevic wasn't satisfied with simply appearing in All-Star Weekend's opening night attraction.
"It's a goal and dream of mine to play in the Sunday game (All-Star Game)," Vucevic said. "I know if I keep working hard I will have a chance to accomplish that in the future."
Despite the fact that he logged just nine minutes, Nicholson made 3 of 4 field goal attempts for six points. He recorded a couple of the many dunks in the contest, faking out a few opponents in the process. However, like his Magic teammate, Nicholson also expressed his desire to play in the Sunday game in the future.
Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets was named the game's Most Valuable Player after pacing TEAM CHUCK with a game-high 40 points on 18 of 22 shooting. Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving, who was last year's MVP, was the most impressive player for TEAM SHAQ. The Cleveland Cavaliers point guard registered 32 points and engaged in one of the most memorable moments of the night when he and Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons had what can only be described as a late-game one-on-one contest.
For Orlando fans, though, this night belongs to Vucevic and Nicholson, who they hope will be integral parts of their team for many years to come.
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