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Team USA downs Team World in the Rising Stars Challenge, 161-144

Head coach Dirk Nowitzki falls short of a win in his coaching debut.

NBA: All Star-Rising Stars Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 all-star weekend kicked off with the Rising Stars challenge where Team USA took down Team World, 161-144.

Team World was headlined by players like Ben Simmons, Lauri Markkanen, DeAndre Ayton and of course, Luka Doncic and coach Dirk Nowitzki. Team USA trotted out future stars like Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox and Donovan Mitchell, but the team as a whole was insanely deep with players like Kyle Kuzma, Marvin Bagley III and Jaren Jackson Jr.

Before the game tipped off fans got a glimpse of Nowitzki’s coaching style. Dirk chose to immediately attack the new darling of the NBA, and his very own teammate, Doncic:

Dirk plays no favorites.

What makes the Rising Stars game so fun is the collective talent sharing the floor at one time, and tonight talent was certainly not lacking. Here are some notable stat lines of the night:

Team World

  • Ben Simmons: 28 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds
  • Lauri Markkanen: 21 points and 6 rebounds
  • Luka Doncic: 13 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists
  • DeAndre Ayton: 15 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists

Team USA

  • Jayson Tatum: 30 points and nine rebounds
  • De’Aaron Fox: 2 points, 16 assists and 5 steals
  • Trae Young: 25 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists
  • Kyle Kuzma: 35 points, 6 rebounds and 1 MVP award

And since the Rising Stars game is the JV version of the All-Star game, there’s absolutely no defense, but lots and lots of highlights.

John Collins in particular is a human highlight reel and teased everyone with what’s to come in the slam dunk competition.

And former Maverick great Trae Young dazzled with this nutmeg through Ayton’s legs.

Doncic got in on the action with a no-look pass to Lauri Markkanen.

Second overall pick Marvin Bagley showed off his hops with a two-handed windmill.

Josh Okogie needed FAA clearance before he could clean up Doncic’s miss.

But most importantly, Doncic made sure to get a step-back jumper in before the clock hit zero.

When asked post game about his performance Doncic wasn’t too worried about being outshined by other young phenoms. After all, this game is for fun, and Doncic was clearly having fun as shown by the boy-like grin on his face the entire night. After all, he might just be saving his flair for Sunday night’s marquee event if Anthony Davis’ injury forces him to miss and the third overall pick gets the nod.

Games like these are fun because fans get to see players truly let loose and have fun with each other. The only true takeaway is that the future of the league is bright, and tonight’s Rising Stars will soon be the All Stars we’ll watch on Sunday night.