By John Hollinger
DALLAS – "The best laid plans..." goes a well-known lament, and there's a good reason. As it turns out, not having an etched-in-stone plan is the best plan when it comes to playing point guard.
At this afternoon's media session, Hornets point guard Chris Paul talked about how point guards can't enter a game thinking about piling up assists, because everything depended on how the defense played him. It only took him about eight hours to be proven correct.
In Friday's Rookie-Sophomore game, Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings provided the example. Before the game he talked about setting a new record for assists -- held by Paul, ironically, with 17 in 2007.
In the end, Jennings' night took a rather different path -- instead of diming his way to victory, he led his team in field-goal attempts with 23. All’s well that ends well, however, as Jennings scored 22 points -- and still managed a team-high eight assists -- as the Rookies ended a seven-year losing streak with a 140-128 win over the Sophomores.
“I just felt like that's how the game flowed," said the Milwaukee point guard. "I was trying to help the team win ... You've seen four guards out there playing all together and willing to sacrifice for the team to win. That shows a lot out of all of us I think."
While Jennings spent much of the night lofting in high-arcing jumpers, he had the big assist at the end. His drive and kickout to a wide-open Stephen Curry for a corner 3 gave the Rookies a 15-point edge with three minutes left, ending any reasonable chance of the Sophomores coming back to win.
Jennings hit 11 of his 23 launches and seemed relieved by all the openings he had in this defense-optional event, even though he missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
"Ever since that 55-point [game] I don’t think I’ve been able to shoot an open shot since," he said.
Jennings teamed with game MVP Tyreke Evans of Sacramento (26 points, five assist, five steals) to out-quick and out-run a Sophomore team with more size but visibly less speed.
And when they missed, DeJuan Blair was there to clean up. He had 22 points and 23 rebounds -- 10 offensive -- along with the highlight of the night when he threw to himself off the backboard for a fast-break dunk. Evans tried to share his award with Blair, in fact, an impressive gesture from a 20-year-old rookie.
“He set the tone for us," said Evans. "He started getting the rebounds for us. He did what he said he was going to do, and that's why I wanted to share the trophy with him.”
The other drama came from the Sophs' Russell Westbrook, who came close to breaking teammate Kevin Durant’s rookie game scoring record by pumping in 40. That still put him seven short of Durant’s 47 from a year ago -- when Westbrook was on the opposing side -- and Durant, an assistant coach for the Rookie squad this year, again got the better of his younger teammate.
It was a Thunder-heavy event, as rookie James Harden also played and was quietly impressive, with 22 points in 23 minutes, and Thunder head coach Scott Brooks watched with his family from the stands after making the short drive down from Oklahoma City. But Westbrook, in a losing effort, stole the show.
“I was worried he was gonna get my record, but I was happy for him,” said Durant. "Since he’s my teammate I let it slide."
“He was hitting 3s and everything tonight. That's something I usually don't see from Russell, but he had a great game."
After the game, Durant shared one other item of interest -- he’s fine with his new nickname. “It’s Durantala,” he said. “You can say that.”