Sports

Rockets Youngsters Show Out at All-Star Weekend

Jae'sean Tate hit the winning shot for Team Barry in the Rising Stars tournament.
Jae'sean Tate hit the winning shot for Team Barry in the Rising Stars tournament. Screenshot
The Houston Rockets had no member of the NBA Western Conference All-Star team this year. It was deserved given their youth and awful record. But it didn't stop three of their young players from putting on a show in the events leading up to Sunday's All-Star game.

In the Rising Stars tournament — a new and interesting format for this season — Jalen Green led his Team Worthy in scoring with a barrage of three pointers. With the game on the line, he took the final potential game winning shot only to come up short.

But, two of his teammates, Jae'sean Tate and Alperen Sengun, continued into the final game and won on Tate's buzzer-beating drive. He was met by Green and Josh Christopher who were watching from the front row.

Tate, who is more veteran than youngster considering he is 26 years old, was a force in bringing his team back and ultimately hitting the game winner. Sengun had some eye-popping moments as well setting up rookie Evan Mobley for a dunk with a no-look pass. But, Tate had the capping moment to an entertaining Friday night for the NBA's All-Star weekend.

On Saturday, things came a bit back down to earth in the Slam Dunk Contest. Green struggled to hit his first dunk, a complicated slam off the side of the backboard assisted by Christopher. He wound up with a 39 on his first dunk and missed the final, ultimately won by New York's Obi Toppin.

Despite a contest that has delivered some of the most electric moments in NBA All-Star history, this dunk contest was marred by missed shots and a severe lack of creativity. Toppin "won" by putting in a routine dunk because even a score of all 6's (the lowest he could get) would have given him the crown.

Regardless, the young Rockets had some highlight reel moments in their first All-Star appearances, even if it wasn't during the actual game. They return to regular season action on Friday in Orlando against the Magic.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke