NBA All-Star Saturday Night’s signature events are, without question, the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout and the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Dime Magazine was in Houston to check out the action live and have grades on the performances of each participant in both events (we can’t be the only other ones who nearly slept through the Shooting Stars and the Skills Competition). Be forewarned: this isn’t exactly a fair grading scale. Expectations played a role in their grades. Remember one of the worst things in the world is wasted talent – at least that’s what they say in the movie A Bronx Tale.
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Curry was one of my personal favorites to win, especially being one of the leaders in three-pointers made coming into the midseason break. He started off slow but got hot on the final two racks in the first round to finish with 17. Unfortunately it wasn’t good enough to advance.
I spoke to Ryan Anderson before the contest on Friday and he was pretty confident and admitted to practicing different techniques to make him more effective. He struggled on the center rack, only connecting on the money ball and finished with an 18 in the first round. Grade: B+
The Red Mamba cleaned out the first rack and was hot until tired legs got the best of him in round one. Still, he finished with a 19 to advance to represent the West in the finals of the competition. He then faced Kyrie Irving and had the advantage of knowing what score he had to beat but came up a bit short with a 20. His 20 was the second highest output of the evening and it landed him second place… tough way to go out.
I didn’t expect much from George coming in, but he still managed to disappoint me a little. I figured he’d get a 13 or 14 but he was only able to manage a 10 and didn’t even finish the last rack.
Watching Novak shoot was like watching a great artist paint or sculpt. The form and release on his shot looked crisp and effortless. Nonetheless he struggled on the center rack and finished with 17. His form gets an A+ but his overall performance does not.
After a mediocre start, Irving got warmed up on the center rack and hit four out of five on the final two racks giving him a total of 18, good enough to get him to the finals against Matt Bonner. In round two, Irving was lights out. He was perfect on his opening rack and center rack and made at least three shots on every other rack to bring home the title with a 23. Incidentally, his score was just two points away from the all-time record of 25 shared by Craig Hodges and Jason Kapono (remember him?). Irving continues his assault on the league, gaining fans and notoriety along the way.