Lillard to join All-Star festivities

Guard gains spot in Rising Stars Challenge game

By Candace Buckner, Columbian staff writer

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Not all the news from the NBA league office on Wednesday deflated the Blazers' balloon.

The league also announced that Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard has earned a spot in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge game as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston.

The Feb. 15 game features rookies and second-year players voted in by NBA assistant coaches. The two teams will be drafted by TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal.

Lillard, the two-time Western Conference Rookie of the Month, has wowed the NBA with his 18.1 points per game and 6.5 assists – both tops among his rookie class.

"Damian has been an integral part of our success this season and I'm glad his efforts were recognized by opposing assistant coaches," Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said in a statement.

Also in the team's official release, team president and CEO Chris McGowan described Lillard as "crowd-pleaser for fans in Portland night in and night out this season."

Before Aldridge's home heroics on Tuesday, Lillard had already hit a big shot inside the Rose Garden Arena that beat the New Orleans Hornets at the buzzer on Dec. 16.

Through his Twitter, Lillard stated that he was "Honored to be selected for the #BBVARisingStars game. Appreciate the NBA assistant coaches that voted me in. See y'all in Houston"

Lillard will become the seventh Blazer rookie to make an appearance in the event.