Former University of Kentucky star Jamal Murray shot his way into the spotlight with 36 points, including nine three-pointers, and 11 assists in the World team’s 150-141 victory over the USA in the Rising Stars Challenge in New Orleans.
“I was out there, I wasn’t second-guessing. I was just taking heat checks,” said Murray, the game’s MVP.
“I was just shooting like I normally shoot,” he told NBA.com. “I wasn’t trying to think about MVP or how many points I had, I was just playing.”
Murray easily eclipsed his career high of 24 points so far during his rookie season with the Denver Nuggets.
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New Orleans’ own Buddy Hield, who scored 28 points, appeared headed for MVP honors. That was until Murray went on a tear down the stretch.
“He got hot. Coach is like, ‘Give Jamal the ball,’” Hield told the Associated Press. “When a guy is hot, you can’t stop him from being hot. You can’t be selfish and say, ‘OK, I want to show out.’ I want to show out and I want to get MVP, but he got hot, man. This wasn’t my time. He deserved it. When a guy’s hot, you got to give him the ball. I don’t care who it is.”
All four ex-Cats had their own shining moments in the game.
Murray was 9-for-14 from three-point range and 13-for-19 overall.
“It was easy for [Murray]” down the stretch, World coach Mike Brown told NBA.com. “Every time he’d get the ball, his teammates were yelling, ‘Don’t pass Jamal! Don’t pass!’”
Karl-Anthony Towns was 11-for-14 with 24 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, and Devin Booker had 17 points and six assists for the U.S.
“We didn’t come up with the win, but we had a good time out there. We had a lot of fun,” Booker told the AP. “The weekend isn’t over for me. I still have the Skills Challenge (on Saturday night), so I’m looking forward to that.”
Trey Lyles added seven points and two assists for the World squad.
NBA All-Star Weekend