The dunk contest didn’t live up to what most expected, but it wasn’t the only event on All-Star Saturday night.
What kicked off the evening was the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, followed by the JBL Three-Point Shootout and both of those competitions went down to the wire — yes, even the Skill Challenge got won in nail-biting fashion.
Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks 7-3 forward, beat Gordon Hayward, 6-8, in the Skills Challenge finals after splashing a pull-up three on his first attempt, and that came after Hayward tried to sabotage Porgizingis by cutting him off when they were racing for the layup. (If Hayward had learned anything as a child, the right to do that would’ve been to swat the Zinger’s shot after it came through the hoop. Hasn’t he ever played knockout?!)
The Skills Challenge course is made of a slalom that contestants have to dribble through before making a chest pass, finishing a layup and burying a three, and it’s clearly a contest that’s catered to the league’s guards. Porzingis became the second-straight big to take home the trophy, and the first Knick to be crowned a champion since 1973.
Right after, the JBL Three-Point Shootout got setup and it was pretty much all over before it started; according to Kenny Smith, “we know who’s getting married, we’re just here for the ceremony.” Klay Thompson got cold feet scored an 18 in the opening round, which wasn’t good enough to advance and the reigning champion would have to watch someone else take home the trophy.
That “someone else” was Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon, who was promptly booed by the New Orleans crowd when he stepped out on the court for the first time. The Sixth Man of the Year contender jumped out to an opening round lead by tallying 24 points, and the final three was him, flat-Earth theorist Kyrie Irving (20) and first-time All-Star Kemba Walker (19).
Both Irving and Gordon finished the final round with 20, forcing an overtime period where Gordon came out, got hot and totaled 21 to take the three-point crown away from Thompson and Irving.
At the conclusion of both events, it was clear that Porzingis’ effort was more impressive because he doesn’t get to do those sorts of moves on a daily basis, while Gordon ranks third in the league with 478 three-point attempts. Also, did I mention that he’s 7-3?
Start a conversation with me on Twitter