Press-Telegram (Long Beach)

Warriors’ Curry back as league’s top shooter after winning 3-point contest.

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Stephen Curry shot his way to another 3-point title and Domantas Sabonis made sure the Skills Challenge still belongs to the bigs.

Then Portland’s Anfernee Simons sealed his final, winning dunk with a kiss. Well, almost.

Curry, the Golden State Warriors star, provided a dramatic preview for his seventh All-Star Game appearance when he sank his final 3-pointer to edge Utah’s Mike Conley for the title Sunday night. Curry also won the 3-point contest in 2015.

Conley had the lead with 27 points and Curry had 26 points before sinking his final shot from the corner for 28 points and the win.

“I could hear the temperatur­e rise a little bit,” Curry said of the reaction from the small crowd allowed in State Farm Arena in Atlanta. “It was some awesome competitio­n. I’m glad I got it done.”

After a runner-up finish to 2020 Skills Challenge winner and fellow big man Bam Adebayo of Miami, Indiana’s Sabonis returned to win the title.

The 6-foot-11 Sabonis did not miss a pass or 3-point shot in eliminatio­n wins over Julius Randle of the New York Knicks and Luka Doncic of Dallas in the test of passing, ball-handling and shooting ability. Doncic fell behind by missing in his first two tests of his passing accuracy.

Sabonis beat Orlando’s 7-foot Nikola Vucevic in the matchup of big men for the skills title. Each missed two 3-point shots before Sabonis sank his third attempt and then clinched his fist in victory.

“It was fun,” Sabonis said. “I wanted to come out and make sure I got it done this time.”

Simons showed off his leaping ability and creativity to beat New York’s Obi Toppin and Indiana’s Cassius Stanley in the two-round dunk contest that started off with Stanley’s spectacula­r slam that received a surprising­ly low score.

The 6-foot-3 Simons soared, almost kissing the rim, on a powerful right-handed jam to beat Toppin in the final. Simons puckered his lips as if kissing the rim, even though he was a few inches away.

“I tried to get close enough so obviously I wouldn’t hit my head on the rim too hard,” Simons said, before acknowledg­ing he has never “actually kissed the rim” in practice.

“I had to commit to it,” Simons said.

Simons also paid tribute to a former star by wearing Tracy McGrady’s jersey on a jam that earned a score of 49 to earn his spot in the final.

“He was my hero growing up, so I wanted to honor him as well,” Simons said.

The contest was judged by five former dunk champs: Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins (1985, ’90), Spud Webb (1986), Dee Brown (1991), Jason Richardson (2002, ’03) and Josh Smith (2005).

In the final, Toppin took off from near the free-throw line, inspiring comparison­s to Wilkins’ winning form while with Atlanta.

Griffin to sign with Nets

Six-time All-Star Blake Griffin is joining the collection of stars in Brooklyn, according to a source.

Griffin became a free agent Friday when he completed a buyout agreement with the Pistons. He cleared waivers Sunday and was eligible to sign with any team. He is averaging only 12.3 points in 20 games this season.

 ?? BRYNN ANDERSON — THE AP ?? The Warriors’ Stephen Curry celebrates making a shot and beating Utah’s Mike Conley in the 3-point contest Sunday.
BRYNN ANDERSON — THE AP The Warriors’ Stephen Curry celebrates making a shot and beating Utah’s Mike Conley in the 3-point contest Sunday.

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