Tonight Damian Lillard took over NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Lillard became the first player to accept invitations to more than three events. Not only will he compete in more than three events, he is in five events this weekend. FIVE!
Lillard is participating in three events Saturday night; the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, and the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. He won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge (with Utah’s Trey Bruke as his teammate) before he competed in his third event of the weekend, the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest.
The three-point contest has always been one of my favorite All-Star events. It isn’t about the high flyers or the lackadaisical effort of the main event. The three-point contest validates the winner as one of the best shooters in the NBA. This year’s event had a new twist. Each contestant still rotated between five stations around the three-point arc. Every station contained a rack with five balls (four regular balls worth one point and one muti-colored “money ball” worth two points) and one minute was put on the clock. It’s a race against time to see how many balls you can get up.
The new twist that was added this year was the “all money ball” rack. This rack contained five multi-colored “money balls” and the contestants chose where they would like to place it. This adds huge amounts of strategy and allows the contestants to place the rack in his hot zone. NBA.com displays this season’s shot charts for each contestant and gives us an idea of where they should place their “all money ball” rack.
Before Lillard left for New Orleans, he was able to practice his strategy at home.
Lillard started the first round of the Three-Point Contest a little cold. He chose to start from the left corner and placed the new “all money ball” rack on the left wing which was second in his cycle. Lillard made two regular balls and the money ball in the first rack for a total of four points. Next, he made three and finished his “all money ball” rack with six points. The final three racks were a struggle. Lillard made no money balls to close out his performance and finished with 18 total points.
Marco Belinelli represented the West in the finals as he beat out Lillard, Kevin Love, and Stephen Curry in the first round. Belinelli had 19 total points in the first round. Bradley Beal represented the East in the finals as he totaled 21 points and beat out Joe Johnson, Arron Afflalo, and reigning champ Kyrie Irving.
In the final round, Beal and Belinelli both totaled 19 points and were forced into a full minute tiebreaker. Belinelli put his foot on the gas in the tiebreaker and posted a 24. Beal was not able to keep up with Belinelli as he totaled 18. Belinelli won the three-point contest and gave the West the overall win.
Lillard now sets his sights on the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Bring home that trophy Dame!