NBA All-Star Saturday Night passed without a repeat champion in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, JBL 3-Point Contest or Verizon Slam Dunk Contest, but there was history made at Staples Center.
The competitions did, however, pass without a repeat champion. Though, that was not possible for two of the contests because Kristaps Porzingis did not participate in the Skills Challenge because of injury, and Glenn Robinson III missed the Slam Dunk due to only recently returning to the court.
In the end, Los Angeles native and Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie earned a trophy in front of his family and hometown, Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker made history in the 3-point competition, and former Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge
With big men again competing against guards, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid presented an intriguing blend of both skill sets. He came from behind to narrowly defeat Boston Celtics power forward Al Horford.
Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen defeated Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond to set a second-round matchup with Embiid. Markkanen then took down Embiid, reaching the finals.
On the other end of the bracket, Dinwiddie took down Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield, Denver’s Jamal Murray eliminated Clippers guard Lou Williams, though Murray then fell to Dinwiddie.
Dinwiddie’s momentum continued as he defeated Markkanen in championship. “It’s big for me to even be at All-Star Weekend considering the road that’s been in my career, very up and down,” Dinwiddie said.
“Obviously being in the G League both on assignment and as a G League player, thank you to the Brooklyn Nets for giving me this opportunity to play and be here. Then it all really feels and seems full circle because I got to come home and do it in front of my family.”
JBL 3-Point Contest
Houston Rockets shooting guard and defending champion Eric Gordon only managed to score 12 points in the first round and failed to advance. Booker (19 points), Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (19) and Clippers forward Tobias Harris (18) advanced to the second round.
Although Thompson is considered one of the game’s best shooters, it was Booker who caught fire. He scored an all-time record 28 points to edge Thompson (25) to be crowned champion, atoning for his performance as a rookie.
“I’m really excited about it,” Booker said of winning. “I always said I always want to represent the city the best I can, with the support they always show for me since day one.
“So season not going how we planned, but I know a lot of the city was ready for this All-Star Weekend, having somebody participate. So I’m glad I could win it.”
Verizon Dunk Contest
Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell went into the competition as the favorite, and his first dunk was proof why. Mitchell had a second basket rolled onto the baseline, threw the ball off that backboard, then did a windmill dunk.
The one-handed flush earned him 48 points. Victor Oladipo missed all three attempts for his first dunk, garnering just 31 points. Dennis Smith Jr. also missed his first try but nailed the second — pulling the ball over his head, then down and back up — for 39 points.
To no surprise, Nance switched into his father’s uniform before recreating Nance Sr.’s famed one-handed cup dunk from the inaugural event in 1984. The trip down memory lane earned Nance 44 points.
Looking to bounce back from a poor first showing, Oladipo retrieved a Black Panther mask from actor Chadwick Boseman. He missed the first dunk try but managed to nail it on the second attempt, receiving a 40 from judges. Then did two-handed. 40 points.
Smith Jr. earned one of three perfect scores by doing a 360, going between his legs and throwing it down with his left hand. Nance’s second dunk wasn’t too far off, as he came from under the basket for a one-handed flush that was given 49 points.
With Mitchell and Nance in the finals, the former upped the showmanship factor by bringing out his sister, Kevin Hart and Hart’s son. Mitchell threw the ball off the side of the backboard and soared over the crouched trio for a one-handed dunk, which received a 50 from judges.
That was four points better than what Nance received for throwing down a windmill dunk off a lob pass from his father.
Down to his final attempt of the night, Nance went to his creative well by doing a double-tap off the backboard. It earned him a 50, but Michell upped the ante by coming out in a Vince Carter Toronto Raptors jersey.
Mitchell then reprised Carter’s 360, windmill dunk from 2000, which judges gave a 48. While Nance certainly had an argument to be voted winner of the competition, he was edged by Mitchell on aggregate, 98-96.
Hall of Famer Julius Erving, three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, comedian Chris Rock, actor Mark Wahlberg and musician and entertainer DJ Khaled made up the panel of judges.
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