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Chuck Burton, AP Photo

Donovan Mitchell scores 20 points, draws laughs at Rising Stars Challenge

By Ryan Miller, | Posted - Feb 15th, 2019 @ 9:23pm

SALT LAKE CITY — On Friday morning, Donovan Mitchell said all he wanted to do during the Rising Stars Challenge was to have a couple dunks.

Good thing he got a couple before his final attempt.

With 1:21 remaining in Team USA’s 161-144 over Team World, Mitchell found himself with the ball and no one between him and the basket. He took a dribble and prepped for a Slam Dunk Contest-esque slam. At the free throw line, he lobbed the ball off the backbo… or not. Before it could ever really begin, the dunk ended.

Mitchell’s pass was just a bit too high and the ball went over the backboard and out of bounds, drawing laughs from Mitchell and just about everyone else.

"Honestly, I don't know what I was going to do," Mitchell said. "I'm glad I did that because I was probably going to miss it anyway. Hopefully, I'm not on Shaqtin' a Fool. That was pretty bad."

It was Mitchell’s final moment of the game, but he had plenty of good ones before that.

Mitchell finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in Team USA’s win. And yes, that included plenty of dunks — including a give-and-go play with former Utah Ute Kyle Kuzma that resulted in a rim-rocking tomahawk.

Mitchell also finished with a game-high five steals, as he at least tried to play a little defense in the very offensive friendly exhibition — something that should make his head coach proud.

Mitchell's final moment, though, was reflective of the atmosphere of the game. It was a lighthearted contest filled with the game’s top young talent and the youthful energy was there — in the makes and the misses.

“I think games like this definitely help build connections between players,” Mitchell said. “Most of us have played against each other at an early age. … It helps build that bond.”

Kuzma took home MVP honors after scoring 35 points and pulling down six rebounds for Team USA.

Ryan Miller

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