LOS ANGELES: Team World attacked the rim and dominated from three-point range as the internationals kicked off the NBA 2018 All-Star Weekend festivities with a 155-124 victory over Team USA on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 26 points and drained seven of 13 from beyond the arc and his Sacramento Kings teammate Buddy Hield tallied a team-high 29 points in the Rising Stars Game at Staples Center arena.
“I got hot first and then Bogie (Bogdanovic) got hot and he continued to stay hot,” said Hield, of the game which features 20 of the top first- and second-year NBA players. “I think Bogie had 29 and I had 26. So it was good tonight for both of us.
“We represented Sacramento well and represented our countries well. The whole thing was to come here and stay aggressive and get the win.”
Canada’s Jamal Murray, who plays for the Denver Nuggets, delivered 21 points and seven assists and Dario Saric, of Croatia, scored 18 and made four-of-seven three pointers.
Boston Celtics Jaylen Brown led Team USA with a game high 35 points and 10 rebounds while Los Angeles Lakers Kyle Kuzma scored 20 points and Jayson Tatum of the Celtics had 15.
Australia’s Ben Simmons won the battle of the two hottest rookies in the league this season, scoring 11 points and dishing out 13 assists for Team World compared to Donovan Mitchell’s seven points and seven assists for the USA.
Team Worlds 10 players came from nine different countries with Canada leading the way with two, Murray and Toronto’s Dillon Brooks.
The World led 78-59 at the half then stretched that to a whopping 36 points at the end of the third quarter. Their biggest lead was 39 points.
“It was the all-star game so it wasn’t like a really competitive game,” said Hield, of the Bahamas. “But the world is getting better.
“I am proud to see a lot of guys around the world from France, Australia, you have (Joel) Embiid from Cameroon. The world is showing progress catching up to American basketball.”
The World dominated from three-point range hitting 41 percent (23 of 56) of their attempts compared to just 27 percent for the Americans.
“It seemed like somewhere in the late first quarter and early second quarter we just started making a bunch of threes and pulled away,” said World coach Rex Kalamian, who is an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors.
USA coach Roy Rogers said they tried to mix it up in the second half but they just didn’t shoot well enough to win.
“Even at halftime we talked about adjustments we were trying to make. They tried. But unfortunately it was just one of those nights where the shots didn’t go down for us,” said Rogers, an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets.
“What I told the guys afterwards is every game is a learning experience. You choose what you want to learn from this game.”
Rogers said he even had to do some in-game coaching because he didn’t want it to turn into a slam-dunk contest at the end like several of these all-star games have in the past.
“The last two minutes I got on my guys about not finishing the game the right way and they got back on track,” he said. “Overall I was satisfied with their competitive spirit.”
Rogers said this rookie class is helping re-define the style of play in the NBA.
“It is no longer a cookie-cutter league where big guys just stay on the post,” he said. “This rookie class symbolizes where the NBA is headed — speed, athleticism and shooting ability.”