PHILADELPHIA - A funny thing happened in the second half of the NBA's rookie-sophomore game: The rookies started playing defense.
In a game known for sloppy play and schoolyard moves with passive resistance, coach Chuck Daly managed to convince his team to start making the sophomores work for their shots. The result was a tide-turning 13-2 run to start the half as the rookies kicked off All-Star Saturday with a 103-97 victory.
Golden State's Jason Richardson scored 15 of his 26 points in the second half, including a 360-degree dunk and another slam in which he pulled his chin above the rim. He was selected the MVP, but the Most Valuable Accomplishment was Daly getting his players to yell "switch" and help on the weak side and on the double teams and put hands in shooters' faces - as if it were real basketball.
"When they're rookies, you can talk to them and get them to do stuff," said Darryl Dawkins, Daly's assistant coach for the game. "But second- and third-year men have a little trouble."
The first half was the usual fare, with teams exchanging dunks, missed dunks, alley-oop passes and bad lobs. Los Angeles Clippers second-year player Quentin Richardson had 21 points on 10-for-17 shooting at halftime as the sophomores led 58-51.
"At halftime, Coach Daly let us know even though it's an All-Star game we've got to go out there and give a better effort," Washington rookie Brendan Haywood said. "We weren't giving the fans their money's worth in the first half defensively, and he let us know that.
"Even though it's for fun, we wanted to win. The winners get paid $1,000 more."
The rookies opened the second half with the 13-2 spurt in which they forced the sophomores to miss six of seven shots and commit four turnovers. Jason Richardson made two 3-pointers during the run. After getting eight dunks in the first half, the sophomores had just three in the second.
"We weren't surprised," said Quentin Richardson, who scored just one point in the second half. "We knew they would play harder than us. They're trying to make a name for themselves. That's how we were last year. We were hungry."
But the rookies didn't win last year, although they do hold a 2-1 lead in the series since the NBA went to this format in 2000.
Down the stretch, Jason Richardson's two acrobatic dunks wowed the crowd with what he said was an early taste of the slam dunk competition later in the day. He was 6-for-7 from the field in the second half.
Jamaal Tinsely had 10 assists and six turnovers for the rookies. Shane Battier went 7-for-11 and scored 15 points, and Zeljko Rebraca was solid with 14 points and nine rebounds - enough to make Jason Richardson a fan.
"I was impressed with - I can't pronounce his name, from Detroit - rah-raz-zaralez-radazaka," Richardson said. "He played good today."
Quentin Richardson's 22 points led the sophomores. Clippers teammate Darius Miles had 20.
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