HOUSTON: Kyrie Irving played the big minutes he was expecting, busted some ankles and wowed the crowd. But he couldn’t pull off another victory in Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge.
Irving had 32 points, two shy of his Most Valuable Player performance last year, and Dion Waiters had 23 points, but Team Shaq was blasted by Team Chuck 163-135 on Friday. That made a winner out of Tristan Thompson, who was the lone Cavaliers representative on Team Chuck. Thompson finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Tyler Zeller had four points and four rebounds for Team Shaq, bringing the Cavs’ collective game totals to 79 points and 20 rebounds. Put another way, 27 percent of the points scored in the game were scored by the Cavs.
“We’re on the rise,” Waiters said. “Once we build that trust, everything else will fall in place. Watch out the next couple years. We’re coming.”
Despite closing the first half of the regular season with dead legs, Irving promised to play big minutes in the Rising Stars game that featured first and second-year players — in part because he was chasing the $25,000 check for the winners and the $50,000 prize for the MVP.
Instead, he’ll go home with $10,000 for playing on the losing team. The Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried was named MVP after scoring 40 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for Team Chuck.
Irving played nearly 27 minutes. The only player on either team to play more was Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
The highlight of the night was Irving and Brandon Knight going at each other in the final minutes with the outcome long decided. Irving’s filthy crossover on a step-back jumper left Knight lying on the court, but Knight responded immediately with a basket at the other end.
Soon the crowd was roaring as the first two point guards selected in the 2011 draft took turns attacking each other. Knight beat Irving off the dribble a couple of times, but couldn’t finish at the rim. Irving mixed in some jumpers with a couple of drives and shook his head at Knight each time down the floor.
“That kind of rivalry 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.”
The Cavs are the first team to have four representatives in the Rising Stars game, including one of them also playing in Sunday’s All-Star Game.
The Rising Stars Challenge kicked off a hectic weekend for Irving. He also participated in a charity project Friday afternoon and now will compete in the 3-point shootout tonight before participating in Sunday’s All-Star Game — although he won’t get to start on Sunday.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra finally confirmed Friday what everyone already knew — he will start Chris Bosh and not Irving in the All-Star Game.
The East needed a replacement for injured Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and Irving seemed the logical replacement. But Spoelstra wiggled Bosh, a power forward, into the lineup by shifting LeBron James to point guard.
“I’m perfectly OK with it,” said Irving, who spoke to Spoelstra about the decision Friday morning. “It’s not really about starting or anything like that. It’s about being part of the All-Star Game.”
LBJ watching Zips
LeBron James said he’s keeping a close eye on University of Akron coach Keith Dambrot and the Zips’ 16-game winning streak.
“They’re on an unbelievable streak right now,” James said. “They gave him a contract extension before the season and rightfully so. He [Dambrot] is doing a great job. One thing about Coach, he maximizes the talent that he has and he also puts belief in guys that may not feel they can do some of the things they can do. That’s always something he did when we were in high school. He’s unbelievable with it.”
Fitch not elected to Hall
Former Cavs coach Bill Fitch was shut out of the Naismith Hall of Fame again. Twelve semifinalists were announced on Friday, but Fitch didn’t make the cut for the second consecutive year.
Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton, Mitch Richmond, Maurice Cheeks, Rick Pitino and Bernard King headlined a list that also includes Guy Lewis, Jerry Tarkanian, Spencer Haywood, longtime North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell and five-time WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley. Tom Heinsohn, who is already in the hall as a player, is a finalist as a coach.
Fitch went 944-1,106 in 25 years as a coach. His victories rank ninth in NBA history and his losses are second. He was named coach of the year in 1975-76 with the Cavs and again four years later with the Celtics. He also coached the Celtics to a championship.
The 2013 class will be announced at the Final Four in Atlanta.
Brazilian great Oscar Schmidt, former ABA star Roger Brown, six-time All-Star Richard Guerin, Edwin Henderson and former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik were directly elected for induction.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.