HOUSTON -- When the team bus arrived at the Toyota Center on Friday night, and Kenneth Faried walked in as a man on a mission.
"I came out with the intent to put on a performance," the Denver Nuggets forward said. "But I wasn't thinking MVP-type of performance. I was just thinking about winning the game and enjoying myself, and pretty much enjoying the game."
Faried certainly enjoyed the final outcome as his squad, Team Chuck, defeated Team Shaq 163-135 in the Rising Stars Challenge. He also wound up as Most Valuable Player after pouring in 40 points and collecting 10 rebounds. Faried was 18 of 22 from the field.
"It's a great feeling to know all of them elite guys out there who worked just as hard as me to get where we are, and to rise above them -- not in a mean way, but in respect for the game -- winning the MVP is an honor," Faried said. "I did expect being here, but I didn't expect winning the MVP."
Besides Faried, Team Chuck got 20 points apiece from San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and Cleveland's Tristan Thompson.
Minnesota's Ricky Rubio (10 assists) performed his usual magic act, capped by bypassing the basket and bouncing a pass between his legs, which led to a Bradley Beal dunk that put Team Chuck ahead 90-66 at the half.
Fans got a treat late in the second half when Cleveland's Kyrie Irving and Detroit's Brandon Knight kept going one-on-one, with Irving primarily getting the best of Knight.
"More or less, that kind of rivalry with me and B. Knight has been happening since high school, since we started playing against each other," said Irving, who scored 32. "We were battling for the one and two spots in high school. He's a good friend of mine. It's great competition."
Howard stays mum
Dwight Howard was coy during Media Day when asked about joining the Dallas Mavericks via free agency this summer.
"I don't want to talk about it," the Lakers center said. "Right now it's all about us and what we're doing right now."
Howard is the No. 1 player on the Mavs' free agent wish list when he becomes available July 1. But Howard wasn't tipping his hand.
"The only thing that matters is the present, the right now, and there's no need for me to talk about what happens at the end of the season," Howard said. "I just feel like at the end of the year that's when I should have my opportunity to make my own decision. I shouldn't be pressured or criticized for waiting until the end of the year, because I don't think it fair for my teammates; I don't think it's fair for the fans or anybody to be worried about what's going to happen at the end of the year."
Twelve finalists were announced and will be considered for induction into the 2013 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The list includes players Maurice Cheeks, Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Bernard King, Gary Payton and Mitch Richmond, and coaches Tom Heinsohn, Guy Lewis, Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian. Female player Dawn Staley and female coach Sylvia Hatchell also made the list. The 2013 class will be announced April 8.
Besides rookie center Bernard James, the Mavericks don't have any representation in any of the All-Star events. Thus, for the first time since he purchased the Mavs on Jan. 4, 2000, owner Mark Cuban did not purchase a suite and will not attend Sunday's game. Cuban was on a technology panel Friday in Houston. James will be recognized tonight as part of NBA Cares for his six years of military duty.
When told that many of the Mavericks aren't shaving until the team reaches the .500 mark, New York Knicks and ex-Mavs center Tyson Chandler said: "It might be a long time. I don't know what Dirk [Nowitzki] looks like with a beard. I feel sorry for my German brother." The Mavericks are 23-29 at the All-Star break.
Hart wins MVP
Comedian Kevin Hart captured the Most Valuable Player trophy for the second straight season as he led the West to a 58-38 win over the East in the NBA Celebrity All-Star game.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760