Kenneth Faried had 40 points and 10 rebounds and entertained the crowd at the end with a series of dunks, leading Team Chuck to a 163-135 victory over Team Shaq in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night.
Faried, in his second season with Denver, made 18 of 22 shots and was selected the game's most valuable player. He'll compete Saturday night in the dunk contest at All-Star Weekend and offered a sneak preview of what he has planned with a series of powerful jams.
For the second straight year, the rosters of both teams were a mix of rookie and second-year players and former stars Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley served as opposing general managers.
Sacramento point guard Isaiah Thomas had 18 points and 10 assists for Barkley's team. Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, last year's MVP, scored 32 points and rookie Dion Waiters, Irving's Cavs' teammate, added 23 for Shaq's team.
The average score of the game over the past five seasons was 138-131, and New Orleans rookie Anthony Davis set the tone with an alley-oop pass to San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard for a dunk 20 seconds into the game.
Barkley's team finished virtually all of their first-half possessions with uncontested 3-pointers or dunks and led 90-66 at halftime.
Team Chuck went 12 for 18 from 3-point range in the first half and Thomas hit his first four tries. Cleveland forward Tristan Thompson was the only player on Barkley's team who didn't hit a 3 in the half, but he made up for it with four dunks.
Thomas also had seven of Team Chuck's 25 first-half assists. Barkley's team made 37 of 56 shots (66 per cent) in the half.
Leonard sank two 3-pointers, and Davis converted Ricky Rubio's 10th assist into another dunk early in the second half as the offensive showcase resumed. Leonard blocked Waiters' dunk attempt at the other end, one of the few displays of individual defence showed all night.
Late in the game, an individual duel developed between Detroit guard Brandon Knight and Irving, stirring the indifferent crowd. Knight sank a 3-pointer and a step-back jumper, but Irving then made Knight stumble with a crossover dribble and a jumper of his own.
Players on both teams stepped aside for a while to let Irving and Knight go at it. Irving blew by Knight for a layup, and Knight returned the favour with a quick drive at the other end. He missed the shot, though, and Faried was there for the offensive putback as he was most of the night.
The last few minutes devolved into a spontaneous dunk contest, with players taking turns showing off their acrobatic moves while the others stood and watched. Faried drew the biggest cheers with four thunderous slams.
Leonard scored 20 points and Thompson finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Barkley's team went 17 for 32 from 3-point range and shot 64 per cent (69 of 108) overall in the game. Team Chuck also had a 51-24 rebounding edge and finished with 42 assists.