Simmons & Kings duo are hot for Rising Stars

LOS ANGELES • Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons may have been disappointed not to have made the line-up for tonight's (tomorrow, Singapore time) All-Star Game, but the leading Rookie of the Year contender made his point across with 11 points and 13 assists as he helped Team World to a resounding 155-124 win over Team USA on Friday.

And the Australian was not the only one to do his country proud as Serbia's Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 26 points and drained seven-of-13 three-pointers while his Sacramento Kings team-mate Buddy Hield tallied a team-high 29 points at the Staples Centre 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 National Basketball Association (NBA) players.

"The whole thing was to come here and stay aggressive and get the win."

Canada's Jamal Murray, who plays for Denver Nuggets, delivered 21 points and seven assists and Croatian Dario Saric added 18 and made four-of-seven three-pointers.

"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," Hield of Bahamas said.

Simmons concurred with Hield's assessment, saying the best part of for him was "probably just looking up when we were up by 30 points".

World guard Ben Simmons dunking to score during the second half. The Australian, who had 11 points and 13 assists, is the front runner for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year accolade.PHOTOS: REUTERS

The guard, who is still considered a rookie despite having been selected as the No. 1 pick in 2016 because he was injured for all of last season, was the NBA rookie of the month for October, November and January.

He is on pace to become the first rookie to average at least 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for a season since Magic Johnson in 1979-80 and in Friday's game, Simmons outshone another front runner for the accolade in Team USA's Donovan Mitchell, who had seven points and seven assists.

"It's really rare (for a rookie to make the All-Star Game). LeBron (James) didn't make it, guys like that. I think the last one was Blake (Griffin).

"It's obviously one of those things that I wanted to be in it, but it didn't happen and we move on. Hopefully next year," Simmons added.

World guard Bogdan Bogdanovic from Sacramento Kings, who scored 26 points, thanking fans after being named Most Valuable Player of the Rising Stars Challenge game against the US team at Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Friday.

San Antonio Spurs' LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Horford of the Boston Celtics were the last two picks in the inaugural 2018 NBA All-Star Draft, according to a report from ESPN. Aldridge joined James' team as the draft's last overall pick, while Horford was Stephen Curry's final selection.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 18, 2018, with the headline 'Simmons & Kings duo are hot for Rising Stars'. Subscribe