LOS ANGELES CA - FEBRUARY 18: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Rookie Team dunks the ball in the first half against the Sophomore Team during the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam at Staples Center on February 18 2011 in Los Angeles California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

NBA All-Star Weekend: Blake Griffin, John Wall Highlight T-Mobile Rookie Challenge

Griffin had 14 points, on seven slam dunks.

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T-Mobile Rookie Challenge: John Wall Named MVP as Rooks Outlast Sophs

Criticizing the quality of play in the rookie-sophomore game is like complaining that Twinkies don't have enough Vitamin C. One should be fully aware beforehand that calories don't get any emptier, so you can either accept it and try to enjoy the experience for what it is or go somewhere else and eat your vegetables. Tonight, I scarfed down the Twinkie and took in the game from high, high atop Staples Center.

The style was just as you'd expect, with the teams scampering up and down the floor and alternating dunks and turnovers. At halftime the rookies led, 71 to 69, behind some hot shooting from Wesley Johnson. Far and away the game's most exhilarating moment came about five minutes into the second half, when John Wall and Blake Griffin did this, which was very nice indeed.


The sophs pulled ahead briefly with about seven minutes remaining when Stephen Curry drained back-to-back threes, but the youthful vigor of the rooks was too much to overcome. It probably wouldn't have been too much to overcome for a team willing to play a little D, but come on. This is the rookie-sophomore game. DeMarcus Cousins scored 33 points and pulled in 15 boards, Johnson finished with 25 and MVP John Wall set a rookie-sophomore game record with 22 assists. One hopes and assumes that this will not be the defining achievement of Wall's career. Hometown darling Blake Griffin played less than 14 minutes.

There wasn't much of a crowd at Staples for the contest - not wholly surprising, considering the ungodly rain that's paralyzed the city - but those in attendance made more noise than you typically hear at a Lakers home game. That's possibly because fully half of them were school kids bused in for the occasion. Judging by their chants and reaction to the piped-in music tracks, they're big fans of both Griffin and Justin Bieber.

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Breaking News: Sophomore Jrue Holiday Infiltrates Rookie Practice

I had the pleasure of attending the rookie team's open practice at the L.A. Convention Center this morning. You won't be shocked to hear that as practices go, it wasn't the most rigorous or disciplined session. It basically went like this: "Coach" Kevin McHale spent about 30 seconds discussing something or other with the players, they then spent maybe five minutes doing some basic motion-offense sets, and then everyone just goofed around for a while, challenging each other to three-point shooting contests and the like. Norman Dale probably wouldn't be too impressed.

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But that's fine. Even though it was nothing substantive, it's fun to see these guys operate in a low-intensity, pick-up setting. They seemed to enjoy catching up with each other. Fellow SoCal bros Landry Fields and Jrue Holiday exchanged pleasantries in what appeared to be an especially jocular fashion.

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Meanwhile, Greg Monroe dropped in an impressive finger-roll.

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And John Wall worked on his baseline jumpers.

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Ask me, this crew seems well poised to knock off the aging, decrepit sophomore squad. Let's just hope Kevin McHale isn't authorized to make any trades.

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