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NBA: Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield lead World team over US

U.S. center Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks over World center Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets during the Rising Stars Challenge (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, Pool)

U.S. center Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks over World center Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets during the Rising Stars Challenge (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, Pool)

by The Associated Press

Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield lead the World team over the US, 150-141 as festivities for the 2017 NBA All-Star weekend kicked off.

Murray had 36 points and 11 assists as the World squad beat the U.S. 150-141 on Friday night. Hield, a New Orleans Pelicans rookie, added 28 points to the delight of the locals who’ll want to see more of that when the regular season resumes.

The game featuring top rookies and second-year pros is the main event on the first night of NBA All-Star weekend. While the final score demonstrated the sport’s global gains, both teams had their fair share of highlights.

Murray, a Canadian and Denver Nuggets rookie out of Kentucky, went 9 of 14 on 3-pointers and was voted the game’s MVP.

Hield, a Bahamian, was 11-of-22 shooting overall, but just 3 of 12 from deep. Hield’s regular season high is 21 points, but he’s averaged fewer than nine points in an inconsistent first season out of Oklahoma. Latvian Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks added 24 points.

Murray essentially sealed the game by hitting three 3s in a span of 49 seconds late in the game.

World coach Mike Brown said he was going to call every play for Murray, “even though we didn’t have any plays. But it was easy, because his teammates were yelling every time the other team scored it or we got a rebound, his teammates were yelling, ‘Don’t pass, Jamal! Don’t pass!’ So he took that to heart and he made some big shots for us.”

Frank Kaminsky of the Charlotte Hornets scored 33 for the U.S. team and Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota scored 24, highlighted by his dunk of Phoenix guard Devin Booker’s half-court lob.

Croatian Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers added 17 points for the World, outscoring his American Sixers teammate Jahlil Okafor, who had 10 points. But Okafor, who’s reportedly on the trade block, only played 14:34 — less than any other U.S. player — in the 40-minute contest and made the most of his shots, going 5 of 6.

Jonathon Simmons of the San Antonio Spurs scored 19 points for the U.S., throwing down several forceful dunks.

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