HOUSTON -- Andre Iguodala says he still has some dunks saved
for Saturday. The rookies might not believe him.
Iguodala broke out his dunking repertoire Friday night and
scored 30 points, leading the sophomores over the rookies 106-96 in
the Rookie Challenge.
The Philadelphia swingman is one of the four players in Saturday
night's slam dunk contest, and he had a chance to show his leaping
skills Friday. All three of his first-half field goals were dunks,
then he helped the sophomores break open the game early in the
second half with a few more.
"Tomorrow is going to be a fun day," Iguodala said. "I've got
a couple of things under my sleeve. I want to try something new.
Everything I did today, you've seen before. I am going to try some
new things tomorrow."
He even added four 3-pointers and shot 13-of-17 from the field
to win MVP honors.
"The main focus of All-Star weekend is the fans," Iguodala
said. "Once you step onto that court, you want to put on a good
show for them. I got open on a lot of breaks, got some easy dunks
and from there, got some outside shots."
Ben Gordon added 17 points for the sophomores, who led by as
much as 23 points.
Rockets guard Luther Head and Toronto's Charlie Villanueva each
scored 18 points for the rookies, who were 7-for-26 (27 percent)
from 3-point range. Chris Paul, the likely Rookie of the Year, had
11 assists and five steals but scored only eight points.
"I thought Chris had a good game because he had 11 assists, but
sometimes Chris can get 11 assists and still get you 20 points,"
sophomores coach Del Harris said. "So I thought our guards ... did
a nice job with him."
The rookies were within four points early in the second half,
but then Gordon made a 3-pointer. Iguodala followed with a dunk and
a jumper, then gave up a dunk to let Dwight Howard have it as the
sophomores pushed the lead to 15 points.
"The first half we came out I think guys were a little
nervous," Gordon said. "We got the kinks out after the first 10
minutes or so. It just carried over to the second half. We were
able to get out to a big lead and the game was pretty much over
after the first 5 minutes."
Iguodala picked up a loose ball less than a minute later and
threw down a one-handed dunk. He added another one after Devin
Harris threw the ball off the backboard for him, and he got another
easy slam after the rookies' botched alley-oop attempt led to a
His most impressive dunk was one that didn't count. He made a
steal along the sideline and was fouled while heading in for a
dunk. He kept going anyway, putting the ball between his legs
before throwing it down.
"We've got a dunk contest coming tomorrow, so they can see the
guys do their thing there," rookies coach Sidney Lowe said. "The
games, you can't allow that. But he had a couple and he took
advantage of it."
Harris put Iguodala back in the game after the rookies got
within single digits in the closing minutes, and Iguodala responded
with two more dunks to end the rookies' hopes.
"He ran the court, he rebounded," Harris said. "But I'm glad
he did, because when we played in Philadelphia Iguodala did about
the same thing to us during the season. So I just wanted to make
sure it wasn't anything personal on his part."
Among those in the crowd for the opening event of All-Star
weekend were Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Bryant entered
midway through the first half and walked to the opposite end of the
arena to take a seat behind the basket. He stopped by on his way to
shake hands and say few quick words to his former teammate, who
ended their feud before Miami played in Los Angeles last month.
The sophomores won the game for the fourth straight time despite
playing without Houston native Emeka Okafor, last season's Rookie
of the Year who is injured.
The rookies were 1-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half.
"Everybody wants to win. I don't think anyone went out there
thinking they were going to lose," Head said. "They just proved
that they're a year ahead of us. During the season, you're focusing
hard and competing hard. Here, you're competing, but you're looking
to have a little fun, too."