Wall Wins Rookie MVP at All-Star Event

By Greg Beacham
|  Saturday, Feb 19, 2011  |  Updated 11:15 AM EDT
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Wall Wins Rookie MVP at All-Star Event

A.P.

during the second half of the Rookie Challenge game during the NBA basketball All-Star Weekend Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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When John Wall turned the Rookie Challenge into a personal playmaking clinic, his former Kentucky teammate and his fellow No. 1 pick eagerly soaked up everything he had to give.

       Wall racked up a record 22 assists to win the MVP award, Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins had 33 points and 14 rebounds, and the rookies rallied to beat the sophomores 148-140 at the NBA's
All-Star weekend Friday night.
      
Blake Griffin scored 14 points for the rookies in front of the high-flying Clippers forward's ecstatic home crowd, sticking to his commitment to play in the game even after making the West team for
Sunday's All-Star game.
      
All three rookie stars were determined to give a little something extra, and they were rewarded with a win.
      
``Most people that have a good game here, it gives them confidence going into the second half of the season,'' Wall said.
      
Before the game, the Washington guard looked up the Rookie Challenge's assists record - 17, by Chris Paul in 2007 - and told Cousins he planned to beat it. Wall scored 12 points when he wasn't repeatedly setting up his fellow rookies for acrobatic dunks and wide-open jumpers.
      
With relentless offense from Wall and Cousins, who teamed up for one season at Kentucky, the newcomers won the lighthearted contest between the NBA's best rookies and second-year players for the second straight year.
      
``We were trying to work together,'' Cousins said. ``He wanted to break the assist record, and I wanted to be MVP.''
      
To the accompaniment of supersonic screams from thousands of children crammed into Staples Center's lower bowl, both teams went through the usual array of alley-oops, breakaway jams and matador defense before the rookies pulled away in the final minutes.
      
Wall created the game's biggest highlight with a jaw-dropping bounce pass to Griffin for an electrifying dunk.
      
``Whenever you see (No.) 32 in a Clippers uniform out of the side, you basically throw it anywhere in the gym,'' Wall said. ``I knew if I bounced it high enough, he will just attack the play.''
    

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