NBA: Cunningham named MVP of Rising Stars game

Cade Cunningham scored five points in the final at the NBA All-Star Weekend's Rising Stars game. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Cade Cunningham was named most valuable player of the NBA All-Star Weekend's Rising Stars game as Team Barry defeated Team Isaiah 25-20 in the final on Friday night (Feb 18) in Cleveland.

The Detroit Pistons' Cunningham, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, scored five points in the final while teammate and crowd favourite Evan Mobley of the Cleveland Cavaliers also scored five. Houston Rockets forward Jae'Sean Tate also scored five.

Under the annual contest's new format, the first team to reach 25 points is declared the winner.

"We were happy to pull it out," Cunningham said.

"My goal coming in was to win. We had the team to do it and we had to prove ourselves."

The new format saw the 28 game participants split into four teams who played two semi-finals followed by the final.

The four teams were coached by Hall of Famers Rick Barry, Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas and James Worthy.

The NBA All-Star Game is on Sunday, with the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant captaining the two teams in the showcase event.

Asked how he picked his winning Rising Stars team, Barry said: "I tried to get diversification. I am proud of these guys. It is so good to see them play the way the game should be played.

"Everybody did his job. It is about team basketball."

Precious Achiuwa of the Toronto Raptors led Team Isiah with 12 points in the final.

Both of Friday's semi-finals were decided by two points or less.

Team Isiah made it to the final round by winning 50-49 against Team Worthy on free throws from the Memphis Grizzlies' Desmond Bane.

In the second semi-final, Team Barry broke a 48-48 tie on Tate's drive for the winning points.

On Sunday, 37-year-old James will be playing in his 18th All-Star Game, matching Kobe Bryant and moving within one of the record held by Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

This is the third All-Star Game played in Cleveland, after 1981 and 1997.

Saturday's events will include a skills challenge, three-point contest and slam dunk competition.

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