NBA Rising Stars Challenge: Recapping performances of young Rockets

Feb 17, 2023; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Team Jason forward Kenneth Lofton Jr (6) celebrates with guard Josh Giddey (3) and forward Jabari Smith Jr. (1) after defeating Team Jason in the 2023 NBA All Star Rising Stars Game at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Rising Stars Challenge: Recapping performances of young Rockets

The Rising Stars challenge looked a bit different this season as the NBA continues experimenting with ways of gaining fans’ interest in All-Star Weekend.

The challenge consisted of a tournament format with four teams headed by four former NBA stars, each team consisting of seven of the best young players in the league. Each game was decided by who reached 40 points first, and the winner of each game would compete in a championship game to 25 points.

The first game saw Team Pau Gasol earn a 40-25 over team Deron Williams. Team Pau saw four players in double figures, Paolo Banchero, Andrew Nembhard, Keegan Murray, and Jose Alvarado. Rockets center Alperen Sengun was on the losing side, seeing just under seven minutes of action. He went scoreless, taking just two shots while recording a rebound and a steal.

In Game 2, Team Joakim Noah took down Team Jason Terry 40-32 in a highlight-filled contest. Team Jason consisted primarily of players from the NBA G-League, including those playing for the G-League Ignite. Mac McClung was the leading scorer with 10 points for Team Jason as he put together a plethora of highlight plays.

Team Joakim’s leading scorer was Quentin Grimes, who put up 13 points on 5-of-6 from the field. Jabari Smith and Tari Eason both saw the floor but struggled from the field in their first game. Smith scored four points on 2-of-6 from the field with a rebound. Eason had just two points on 1-of-3 to go along with two rebounds and an assist.

Team Pau defeated Team Joakim 25-20 in the Rising Stars Final to take home the event. Jose Alvarado knocked down the game-winning shot on a fadeaway 3-pointer off of a double team. He ended up winning Rising stars MVP. Quentin Grimes caught fire for Team Joakim scoring 14 of the team’s 20 points. Jabari Smith scored just one point in the final game on just three shots to go along with two rebounds. Tari Eason did not play in the final game.

The Rockets had the most players selected to play in the event with four, including Jalen Green, who did not play due to injury.

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