Kyle Kuzma took home MVP honors in Friday night’s Rising Stars game during NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, and that’s no coincidence. The financial incentive attached to the win was a driving force behind his effort.

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Kuzma scored 35 points in Team USA’s 161-144 win over Team World, played by first and second-year players in the league. He said after the game that he wanted the $25,000 bonus that goes to players on the winning team.


Celtics forward Jayson Tatum also made a bid for MVP with 30 points and nine rebounds.

For Team World, Ben Simmons had the best showing.  The Philadelphia 76ers star finished the game with 28 points, five rebounds, six assists, and three steals, going an ultra-efficient 14-of-17 from the field on a series of highlight-reel dunks. Chicago Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen had 21 points for the World squad, while Los Angeles Clippers rookie Shae Gilgeous-Alexander had 15 points, five rebounds, six assists, and three steals off the bench.

Both teams shot over 55 percent from the floor, and the World actually had 48 assists compared to the USA’s 45. It was outside shooting, though, that proved the difference for coach Kyrie Irving’s team. Led by six triples from Tatum and Young, the Americans outscored their opposition 63 to 48 from beyond the arc.

Many expected going into the game that Team World would dominate this game. Team World won the last two matchups, but behind a strong performance by Kuzma and Tatum that streak ended and USA basketball showed the future is bright in the United States.