Birth­day boy brings boom

Jones wins Slam Dunk con­test, LaVine falls in 1st round of the 3-Point Con­test

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND - By Phil Thomp­son, DeAn­tae Prince, Ja­mal Col­lier

Zach LaVine started and ended the 3-Point Con­test well — it was the mid­dle of the com­pe­ti­tion that doomed him.

The Bulls guard didn’t make it past the first round dur­ing Al­lS­tar Satur­day Night at the United Cen­ter de­spite hit­ting all 10 shots from the cor­ners.

LaVine had 23 points in the first round, fin­ish­ing be­hind Devin Booker (27), Buddy Hield (27) and Davis Ber­tans (26). It was not enough to ad­vance with the top three scor­ers mov­ing on to the next round.

LaVine missed sev­eral shots from his money rack, which he set at the top of the cir­cle, and whiffed on both 3-point balls. He came into the con­test as a long shot, ac­cord­ing to odd­s­mak­ers.

Hield, a Kings guard, hit the fi­nal shot to win the con­test, edg­ing Devin Booker 27-26. Hield made five in a row on his sec­ond rack and four of five on his money rack, in­clud­ing his last shot.

Davis Ber­tans fin­ished third with 22.

Slam Dunk con­test: Heat for­ward Der­rick Jones Jr. cel­e­brated his 23rd birth­day by win­ning the con­test, edg­ing Magic for­ward Aaron Gor­don in a mem­o­rable show­down that re­quired two tiebreaker jams.

Jones and Gor­don each got a per­fect 50 on both of their dunks in the fi­nal. Then they got two more per­fect scores on their first jam in the dunk-off.

Jones then took off from just in­side the foul line and threw down a wind­mill jam with his left hand, draw­ing a 48 from the panel of five judges.

Af­ter a short dis­cus­sion with Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, Gor­don brought out 7-foot-5 Celtics rookie Tacko Fall and po­si­tioned him near the bas­ket. He then took the ball from Fall’s hands on his way to a thun­der­ous dunk.

The United Cen­ter gasped as the court­side NBA stars cel­e­brated.

But Gor­don was awarded a 47, giv­ing the vic­tory to Jones.

The crowd be­lieved Gor­don short-changed on his fi­nal dunk, re­act­ing with gut­tural boos. Gor­don also lost a mem­o­rable dunk con­test to LaVine in 2016.

Lak­ers cen­ter Dwight Howard earned ma­jor points be­fore he even fin­ished his sec­ond dunk. Howard started his rou­tine by wel­com­ing his for­mer Magic team­mate Jameer Nel­son to the court to be­stow him with an over­sized cape.

Howard then re­vealed the No. 24 on the cen­ter of his chest, an homage to Lak­ers leg­end Kobe Bryant, who died last month in a he­li­copter crash in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Howard, now in his sec­ond stint in Los An­ge­les, played with Bryant in the 2012-13 sea­son.

Howard’s 41 and 49 scores weren’t enough for him to ad­vance to the fi­nal round but his Bryant trib­ute will be re­mem­bered.

Skills Chal­lenge: It wasn’t a good start to the Skills Chal­lenge for play­ers with Chicago ties.

Clip­pers guard Pa­trick Bev­er­ley — a Chicago na­tive — and Nets guard Spencer Din­wid­die — a for­mer Bull — both missed their passes through the ring in the open­ing com­pe­ti­tion of All-Star Satur­day Night.

Bev­er­ley ac­tu­ally missed two of them. Then he “ac­ci­den­tally” drifted into Pas­cal Si­akam’s path while both were try­ing to make layups — prob­a­bly no sur­prise to any­one fa­mil­iar with Bev­er­ley’s tenac­ity.

If it was an at­tempt to slow down Si­akam, it didn’t work. Si­akam com­pleted his layup and then got back to the other end of the court to sink his 3-pointer to move on to the sec­ond round.

The Heat’s Bam Ade­bayo took the tro­phy, beat­ing the Pac­ers’ Do­manta Sabo­nis in a what came down to a 3-point con­test at the end. Ade­bayo elim­i­nated Din­wid­die in the first round and Si­akam in the semi­fi­nals; Sabo­nis knocked off de­fend­ing cham­pion Jayson Ta­tum in the open­ing round and the Bucks’ Khris Mid­dle­ton in the semis.


Heat player Der­rick Jones Jr. com­petes in the Slam Dunk Con­test at NBA All-Star week­end on Satur­day at the United Cen­ter.

Bam Ade­bayo holds his tro­phy af­ter win­ning the NBA Skills Chal­lenge at the United Cen­ter on Satur­day.

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