Rice's rising star glows Hornet sets records with 20 in quarter, 24 in half to win MVP

Jordan's triple double a 1st

Down 23 in first half, East romps, 132-120

February 10, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- In the five weeks before the All-Star break, Charlotte Hornets guard Glen Rice was the best scorer in the NBA. But he didn't look it in the first half last night, when he missed six of his seven shots, scoring two points.

"Going into the locker room at halftime, Coach [Doug Collins] told me, 'Start hitting some shots,' " Rice said. "Also, my fiancee gave me that look. One of the things I started to do was concentrate a little bit more and staying focused."

A more motivated Rice came out in the third quarter and scored 20 points -- an NBA All-Star record for a quarter. His 24 points in the second half were also an All-Star record, earning him Most Valuable Player Award honors after last night's 132-120 East win in the NBA All-Star Game.

In winning for the second straight year, the East came back from a 23-point first-half deficit. Rice, the third reserve to win the award since 1981, wasn't the only player who could have made a claim to the award. Michael Jordan, who led the East comeback in the second quarter, recorded the first triple double in All-Star history with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in 26 minutes.

"I was walking out of the game and Doug said, 'You need one more assist for a triple double,' " Jordan said. "I really wasn't in tune to that until that moment. It's really unbelievable that a guy like Oscar Robertson, who averaged a triple double a whole season, didn't have a triple double in the All-Star Game."

Washington Bullets forward Chris Webber, in his first All-Star Game, scored two points in 14 minutes. Webber hit one of four shots, but enjoyed the experience of playing with some of the game's great players.

"I've never been so nervous in my life like that," Webber said. "It's been a great experience. It's one of those things I'll treasure for the rest of my life."

Webber said it was a highlight to hear his name announced to the crowd of 20,592.

"That's what I came here for, to hear my name called," Webber said. "I was just thinking about so much surgery and how much I've gone through. It was just great to be here."

The East had little luck shooting in the first quarter, when it scored 21 points -- appropriate in a building where the Cleveland Cavaliers routinely post low scores.

"Terrell [Brandon] and I were kidding each other," Collins said of the score. "Terrell said, 'Curse of the Cavs.' "

The East trailed 34-21 at the end of the first quarter. It got no better for the East in the second quarter, when the West twice led by as many as 23 points, the second time after a jumper by Karl Malone with 5: 58 left in the second quarter for a 53-30 lead.

That's when Collins scrapped his scripted minutes, getting Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Anfernee Hardaway back in the lineup in an attempt to get the East back in the game.

It worked. At one point, the East ran off 17 straight points in less than four minutes. The East ended the half with a 23-4 run, pulling to within 60-57.

"They were a little overconfident," Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway said of the West. "They were taunting us. We just wanted to come out in the second half and show them that the East is best."

And the third quarter was when Rice, after some urging from Collins, took over. In less than a minute, Rice hit three straight three-pointers. Rice hit eight of 11 shots in the third, including four of five three-pointers.

Over one stretch of 14 minutes, from the second quarter to late in the third quarter, the East outscored the West 56-15. A 23-point first-half deficit became an 18-point lead, and the East coasted the rest of the way. The 132-120 final score was more like an All-Star Game -- and a rarity in this building.

"That was one of the reasons that the crowd was a little bit lackadaisical," said Charles Barkley, who did not play because of injury. "They are used to the Cavaliers scoring 10 to 15 points in the first quarter."

The only real drama, after the East put the game away, came when Jordan was ready to check into the game for Rice with about two minutes left in the third quarter. But it was pointed out to Collins that Rice needed another basket to break the record for points in a quarter, set in 1968 by Hal Greer, who scored 19. Rice got the record when he hit an eight-foot jumper with 1: 37 left.

The same thing happened in the fourth quarter, when Collins, realizing Rice had a chance to set a record for points in a half, put him back into the game with 4: 28 left.

Rice got a field goal and two free throws in the last minute for 24 points for the second half. That broke the record of 23 set by Wilt Chamberlain (1962) and equaled by Tom Chambers (1987).

"Had it been a regular-season game, I probably would not have done it," said Collins, who was angered last season when Orlando guard Anthony Bowie called a timeout in the closing seconds of a game in an attempt to get a triple double. "I've always believed that records in those regular-season games should be decided if the game is on the line. The players kept making me aware on the bench that Glen needed two more baskets. It was a conscious effort."

Thus ended a memorable evening for Rice, an All-Star for a second straight year. When he made the team a year ago, Rice said he didn't want to be a "one-year wonder." The way he has played recently, it appears he'll be an All-Star for years to come.

"That's definitely one of my goals, to continue to keep going, being in the All-Star Game," Rice said. "I realize each year I'm going to have to keep working harder and harder. I'm willing to step up and accept that challenge."

Pub Date: 2/10/97

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