AP Sports

Bennedict Mathurin caps Pacers’ All-Star celebration with Rising Stars MVP, title in 26-13 win

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin wanted his family to have something to cheer about after traveling to Indianapolis for All-Star weekend.

Turns out, the crowd enjoyed Mathurin’s championship run, too.

San Antonio rookie Victor Wembanyama never got the chance to celebrate Friday night. Despite scoring 11 points in the second of the night’s three games, Wembanyama was eliminated in his first All-Star contest.

Instead, two second-year players — Mathurin and Oklahoma City guard Jalen Williams — led Team Jalen past Team Detlef 26-13 in the Rising Stars championship game. Mathurin celebrated by taking home MVP honors.

“To see my family and friends traveling all this way just to see my have a good time, I felt I needed to play well,” Mathurin said after scoring 22 points in two games. “If I’m being totally honest, it’s also my makeup to make sure I bring it home, so that was the main thing.”

Mathurin, a first-team all-rookie selection last season, stole the show as teammates Myles Turner and Tyrese Haliburton, a first-time All-Star starter rooting for him.

The crowd even serenated briefly with chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!”

Mathurin’s strong showing may not have been a surprise, but Wembanyama’s early exit was. And the 20-year-old French sensation certainly wasn’t pleased with the result.

“I want to win and I hate losing,” he said. “But at the same time, I have so much going on and you know I’m happy that I just knocked one thing off the list this weekend. So it’s mixed feelings.”

But it was an all-Pacers celebration.

Coaches Jalen Rose and Detlef Schrempf, both former Pacers players reached the championship round. And Indiana rookie Oscar Tshiebwe led Schrempf’s team with eight points in the title game.

GAME 1

Mathurin rallied Team Jalen from an early 9-0 deficit by fueling a 21-8 run that swung the game. Portland rookie Scott Henderson, playing in his third Rising Stars game, Tamika Catchings’ team with 10 points. Jaden Ivey, whose mother played for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, had eight points and four steals.

GAME 2

Wembanyama had mixed results in his first All-Star contets. He was 5 of 6 from the field but also committed five turnovers.

Two G-League players, Mac McClung, the defending Slam Dunk champion, Alondes Williams led Team Schrempf. McClung scored 12 points while Williams had 11.

BANCHERO FANS

Last season’s NBA rookie of the year Paolo Banchero certainly has a strong following this weekend. Banchero finished with five points, three rebounds and two assists in his only game playing for Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings.

Afterward, Wembanyama called Banchero an underrated performer. Max McClung also praised Banchero.

“I think a lot of it starts by his character to do this game and be in the All-Star game,” McClung said. “I don’t think there’s any limit on Paolo Banchero.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I told my team I’m trying to win, especially in Indy. I didn’t tell them I was trying to get the MVP. … But, I’m trying to get it,” Mathurin said.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA

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