HOUSTON -- The Warriors have allowed 57 or more points in each of their last five first halves, so it wasn't unfamiliar for Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson to look up at halftime and see their opponents with a large sum of points.
Charles Barkley's Team Chuck set a Rising Stars Challenge record with that first-half total, and added another 73 in the second to set the record with 163 total points, enough to defeat Shaquille O'Neal's Team Shaq handily. Nuggets' forward Kenneth Faried netted MVP honors with 40 of those points as well as 10 rebounds, though a number of his buckets came during the impromptu dunk contest at the game's conclusion.
"It hurts to lose six in a row," Thompson said. "I don't care if it's an All-Star Game."
Thompson, who came off the bench hoisting, finished with 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting. He missed his first three jumpers -- two threes and a contested two -- and went 1-for-6 from beyond the arc. But he got things going in the second half when he finished three consecutive Team Shaq trips down court. His fade-away 10-footer off one footer preempted an emphatic alley-oop in transition. And Thompson didn't hesitate when the ball found him the next time down, he stepped back and nailed his only three of the game.
The run brought Team Shaq to within 21.
"I hope they didn't watch the second half," Barnes said. "That was rough on the eyes. It would have been nice to get a win tonight, it's been a while."
It was only rough on the eyes if you were expecting a stalwart defensive effort. Among one-on-one battles between Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight, the high-flying alley-oops highlighted by Faried's large one-handed flush and a record-tying 17 three pointers from Team Chuck, the Toyota Center crowd went home entertained. And that's what it's all about.
"It's mainly a show for the fans," Thompson said. "That's the mindset. Get out there and have fun, and I have fun by shooting. My shots were probably pretty high, but that's the beauty of this game, the All-Star Game. It's really free flowing."
While Thompson and Barnes found themselves trailing most of the game, and only on the floor together for a short span, cross-town rival Isaiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings was flowing freely through their defense. Thomas came off the bench and made an immediate impact with 18 points on 4-of-6 from three-point range and 10 assists.
From the moment the 60th overall pick in the 2011 draft subbed in, Mr. Irrelevant looked like the most motivated player on the court.
"That's my job," Thomas said. "No matter if it's at the YMCA, I'm going to be the guy that makes the difference."
He was, much to the dismay of the Warriors contingent.
"I got six losses going right now?" Thompson thought aloud before putting it in perspective. "Well, that's what Tuesday's for. We gotta pick it up the second half of the season and get a good seed in the playoffs."
Avoid playing defense like Team Shaq Friday night and the Warriors have a shot.