- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 25, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla. — Before the Rising Stars Challenge began, John Wall told TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith that he was going to give him “a little tease” of his dunking ability.

As the game neared the end, with Wall’s team — Team Chuck — comfortably in the lead and on the way to an easy win, Wall showed off a few of his moves, including a behind-the-back dunk.

“I tried it once before in Chris Paul’s All-Star game,” Wall said. “I just wanted to try it again. It was only my third time ever doing it, so I was shocked.”

Wall played 27:16 in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, the opening night of All-Star Weekend, and scored 17 points on 8 of 13 from the floor, with eight assists, six rebounds and two blocks. He also had five turnovers and a couple of missed slam dunks.


In a revamped version of the old Rookie vs. Sophomore contest, this game lacked a feeling of having something to play for and felt more like a pickup game. But the players seemed to enjoy the exhibition and had a little fun by turning the last few minutes into de-facto Slam Dunk contest.

Team Chuck won the game 146-133 over Team Shaq.

As the game progressed, Wall’s somber looking expression had changed, and he started to have some fun. By the end, Wall even broke into a smile once or twice.

“You know, at first, you want to be out there starting, so I was kind of upset,” Wall admitted. Wall was chosen 12th, behind five other guards.

“But after a while, you just play and know it’s just for fun. I starting taking that [attitude], and I felt a lot better. You know you want to be here as much as possible, every [All-Star] Weekend. You don’t want to come here just to be a spectator and watch.”

Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving stole the show with 34 points and nine assists and went 8-for-8 from 3-point range.

“It’s never happened in my career,” said Irving, who picked up MVP honors. “It’s kind of unfortunate it comes in the All-Star game. These stats don’t carry over to the season. But at the end of the day, it was fun to get out there with those talented guys, so it was a great experience.”

But the All-Star experience was a bit more subdued for New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, who played on Thursday night against the Miami Heat and might have been suffering from a touch of fatigue.

Lin saw less court time than anyone on either squad, playing just 8 minutes, 55 seconds, and scoring just two points.