Waiters shines, scores 31 in Rising Stars Challenge
Dion Waiters showed the other so-called rising NBA stars — and everyone involved in All-Star weekend in New Orleans — that he can fill it up. In the event, of course, they didn’t already know.
The Cavaliers guard scored 31 points on 10-of-14 shooting off the bench, helping Team Hill run to a 142-136 win over Team Webber in the annual Rising Stars game Friday.
Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, starting in Sunday’s All-Star Game, leaped to his feet in support of Waiters late in the second half when Waiters began to take over.
Along with Waiters’ hot shooting (he also went 4-of-6 on 3-pointers), he passed for seven assists, including a couple nifty ones near the basket. One of those passes went to game MVP Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, who finished with 30 points and 25 rebounds.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal added 21 points for Team Hill, picked by former NBA star Grant Hill. Team Webber was picked by Chris Webber.
New York Knicks rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. led Team Webber with 36 points, including seven threes.
Waiters and Hardaway got involved in a duel of sorts in the second half, with each admittedly trying to outdo the other with long-range shots. Waiters said the two talked a little trash in the process.
Waiters had two baskets and then two 3-pointers, one of them when he stepped back after faking a move to the basket that made Hardaway lose his balance. Hardaway answered back with two 3-pointers of his own as the crowd roared.
Waiters then clinched the duel when he knocked the ball free for a rare defensive highlight in the game, nailing his second straight 3-pointer to give team Hill the lead for good at 126-124 with 2:44 left. Drummond followed with a dunk for a four-point advantage, and Team Webber could never catch up.
Friday morning, Waiters told reporters in New Orleans that he would look to pass first.
"I want to get like 12-15 assists,” he said. "I’m going to switch it up, try to get in a nice little dunk or something. Besides that, I’m going to go out there looking to pass, get my teammates the ball.
"You’ve seen the team, a great group of guys. I’ve got a lot of good players, I can get a lot of assists. I’m just going to go out there, play my game — most important, get my teammates the ball."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)