Orlando Magic big men Nikola Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson took the floor for opposing teams Friday night in the 2013 NBA Rising Stars Challenge, with Vucevic's Team Chuck topping Nicholson's Team Shaq in a 163-135 rout. The 163 points for Team Chuck set a new Rising Stars record. On the strength of his 40 points and 10 rebounds, Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried took home MVP honors for Team Chuck.
TNT boasts in a well-known advertising campaign that it knows drama, but Friday's game offered none. The 40-minute contest was tied twice, but Team Chuck never trailed.
Vucevic got the better of his Magic teammate, especially at the 11:18 mark of the second half, when Vucevic threw down a two-handed jam on Nicholson. Vucevic posted 15 points and four rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting in 20 minutes off the bench. Nicholson acquitted himself, however, with six points and three rebounds in 10 reserve minutes.
Vucevic entered the game at the 11:54 mark of the first half and missed his first shot, a long two-pointer from the right wing, 90 seconds later. He got on the scoreboard at the 9:38 mark with a rolling left-handed hook on the game's first post play of the game. Two possessions later, Vucevic spotted up just left of the three-point arc and drained a three-pointer.
He had the chance to match up against Nicholson for almost six first-half minutes. Nicholson came up short in his first post touch against Vucevic, despite the teammates' agreement to let the other score if they ever guarded one another. He scored two possessions later on a spot-up two-pointer; Vucevic clapped his hands as he jogged to "contest" the shot.
Vucevic finished the half with nine points, three boards, and an assist in 10 minutes. For his part, Nicholson contributed six points and a rebound in six minutes.
An underdog coming into the game, Team Chuck built a 90-66 halftime lead behind 14 points and seven assists from Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas. Thomas made four of Team Chuck's 12 first-half triples. Kenneth Faried put up 19 points in 11 first-half minutes.
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