Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke were reunited Friday night in New Orleans, and this time Hardaway stole the show. The New York Knicks rookie scored 36 points in Team Webber's 142-136 loss to Team Hill in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge, combining with Brooklyn Nets big man Mason Plumlee to score 40 of his team's final 48 points.
Hardaway Jr. and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters traded long triples back and forth on multiple possessions in a personal battle, bringing the crowd - and their teammates - to their feet.
"He really, really got going," Plumlee said of Hardaway with a smile. "Him and Waiters were putting on a show. But I think that's great for the game. Sometimes these games, I played in them in high school, and they can get really ugly when no one is into it."
That wasn't a problem for Hardaway, whose father, Tim Sr., was in the stands. He and Waiters went back and forth with each triple seemingly longer than the next.
It was friendly at first, the New York Post reported. Then it got serious.
"We knew from the get-go he was gonna go hard," Wizards guard Bradley Beal said of Hardaway.
Hardaway put up 23 shots for his game-high 36 points, while Waiters made 10 of 14 to score 31 with seven assists. Both were in contention for MVP honors, though Detroit Pistons standout center Andre Drummond took home the award.
"It was great. We saw the fans standing up, saw Kevin Durant and James Harden on the sidelines getting into it, as well," Hardaway said. "It feels great, a wonderful opportunity. You've got to enjoy the moment, embrace it and have fun."
Burke (six points on 3-of-12 shooting) also had fun watching his former teammate in action, noting, "It was give the two of them the ball and get out of the way."
"He came down and made a shot; I came down and made a shot and once the crowd got into it, I knew it was on," Waiters said. "I told him, 'I'm coming right back, I'm coming right back.'"
"That's what it turned into - and we didn't plan for that to happen," Burke said. "They talked about it out there on the court, but I had the ball in my hands, and I'm going to give Tim the ball back.
"I want him to go back at him. He hit a shot, Dion came back and hit a shot, and it became a 1-on-1 matchup, and it became a great performance he put on out there. I've seen Tim hit maybe six or seven shots in a row like that a couple times, to where he's in that mold, and he's just hot."
The two had an exchange in a regular season game that fueled the fire. Waiters told Hardaway he was "looking for payback," the Post reported, after Hardaway made a three-pointer in the last seconds of the Knicks' blowout win over Cleveland at Madison Square Garden late last month.
"We were just trying to do a great job of getting the fans involved," Hardaway said. "It was kind of dead in there, and we just wanted to just start something, a little one-on-one battle here and there."
They stole the show.
"He came down and made a shot, I came down and made a shot," said Waiters, who finished with 31 points to lead Team Hill. "Once the crowd got into it, I knew it was on. But I let him take them. … I let him take them."
Hardaway obliged by putting on a performance for the ages.