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Irving and Knight steal the Rising Stars show with one-on-one duel

By Royce Young | NBA writer

HOUSTON -- Let's face it: The annual Rising Stars game is never exactly something that's must-watch basketball or anything. It's mostly a fun throwaway to catch out of the corner of your eye and a nice thing to open up All-Star Weekend.

But for about a two-minute stretch on Friday night, it was can't-miss stuff. Not because the game got ultra-competitive or something.

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It was a one-on-one showdown between Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight that had everyone paying attention.

"It just so happened I ended up on him, and that's how it went," Knight said. "I think just after I slipped on the first one, he kind of used it as fuel. You know, if anyone falls on the court, you get a little bit pumped up. Then after that, yeah, it was competition, and that's how it goes."

"Slipped" or "had his ankles shredded" is probably in the eye of the beholder. But what it did was spark a very entertaining run of the two players going head-to-head. Irving attacking Knight. Knight attacking him right back.

"That kind of rivality with me and B-Knight has been happening since high school, since we started playing against each other," Irving said. "We were battling for the one and two spot in high school. He's a good friend of mine. It's great competition."

That word -- competition -- isn't typically something that you see much of in a rookie/sophomore game. The final score was 163-135 with each team shooting more than 60 percent from the floor. It's a game known for no defensive effort, except when you get challenged the way that Knight was.

"You've got no choice if a guy's going at you; you gotta put your clamps on," Knight said. "You gotta do it. Or at least try to do it."

The final verdict? Advantage: Irving. The second-year Cavs phenom finished with 32 points on 14-20 shooting to Knight's 10 on 4-14. Irving finished three buckets on Knight while Knight only got one.

"You want to keep it a basketball game, but here or there, when you get a couple spurts like that, it definitely adds some flavor to the game," Knight said.

I'm not sure I'd call that a basketball game, but he's certainly right: The little game within a game definitely added a little something to an otherwise forgettable night.

 
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