Stephen Curry captured the NBA 3-Point Contest crown, swishing his last shot – a bonus two-point ball – from the right corner to edge Mike Conley in the finals of the annual All-Star Game showcase event on Sunday night, March 7 (Monday, March 8, Philippine time) at Atlanta.
Curry shared the pregame spotlight with Domantas Sabonis, who beat out fellow big man Nikola Vucevic for the NBA Skills Challenge crown.
As a concession to the COVID-19 pandemic, the three-point and skills competition were held immediately before the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday instead of one day prior. The slam dunk contest was scheduled for halftime of the All-Star Game. (LIVE UPDATES: NBA All-Star Game 2021)
The NBA’s leader in total three-pointers this season with 169, Curry watched as fellow finalists Jayson Tatum put up 17 points, while Conley, the NBA’s reigning H-O-R-S-E competition champ, had 27. It set the stage for the 2015 three-point champion, who had dominated the earlier first round.
Curry was 4 points behind when he arrived at his last rack of 5 balls, then made 3 of 4 to get within one point before hoisting the red-white-and-blue two-point ball through the hoop just before time ran out to finish with 28.
The Sacramento Kings’ Buddy Hield used the same final-shot heroics to win last year’s championship.
Curry joined Jason Kapono, Peja Stojakovic, Jeff Hornacek and Mark Price as two-time champs in the distance-shooting event. Craig Hodges and Larry Bird won 3 each.
Curry is one of two Golden State Warriors ever to win the title, with teammate Klay Thompson winning in 2016. Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who played most of his career for the Chicago Bulls, was the 1997 winner.
Shooting last, Curry dominated the first round, running up 31 points to lead Conley (28) and Tatum (25) into the three-man finals.
Zach LaVine (22), Donovan Mitchell (22) and Jaylen Brown (17) were eliminated in the first round.
A runner-up to Bam Adebayo last year, Sabonis defeated Julius Randle, Luka Doncic and Vucevic en route to the Skills Challenge crown.
The victory was the fourth in the last 6 years for a big man, with the 6-foot-11 Indiana Pacers center joining Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis and Adebayo among recent winners.
Sabonis, who missed his last 8 three-point shots for the Pacers leading into the All-Star break, needed just one shot to cap first- and second-round wins over Randle and Doncic.
After Vucevic had eliminated Robert Covington and Chris Paul, he got a shot at the title but missed his first three-point attempt in the finals against Sabonis.
The Pacers big man got off 4 quick attempts, with his fourth finally going through the hoop as Vucevic was launching his third try.
Paul and Doncic, the co-favorites in the event, received first-round byes. But neither was able to take advantage, each falling in the semifinals in their first run through the dribbling, passing and shooting course. – Rappler.com