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NBA: Rookie LaVine wins dunk contest



Andrew Wiggins had described one of the dunks that Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Zach LaVine had up his sleeve as one that would make people unconscious with amazement.

That mysterious dunk didn't surface Saturday night but LaVine had plenty of other aerial tricks up his sleeve, becoming the second youngest winner of the Slam Dunk contest and getting the crowd to its feet at Barclays Center.

"I never seen a dunk like that," Wiggins said Friday night. "I've never witnessed it live before in my life."

LaVine enlisted Wiggins and Minnesota teammate Shabazz Muhammad in the second round when he received a score of 94 from the judges of Hall of Famers Bernard King, Chris Mullin, Nate Archibald, Walt Frazier and Julius Erving.

"I just wanted to come out with a bang," LaVine said. "I was trying to get 50 on every dunk. It didn't happen but I was close on every one. The main thing was I wanted to show everyone what I got."

LaVine won the contest by 18 points over Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who had to change strategy on his final dunk.

On his second dunk, Oladipo originally planned to soar through the paint after throwing the ball from the top of the key, but after four misses, he changed course, enlisting teammate Elfrid Payton. Payton handed him the ball from directly below the rim and Oladipo executed a windmill dunk that earned a score of 41.

Wiggins helped LaVine get a score of 45 on his first dunk of the final round by helping his fellow teenager execute a behind-the-back dunk with his left hand.

To finish it off, Muhammad threw the ball off the stanchion behind the backboard, and on his second try LaVine went between the legs for a reverse dunk that earned him a score of 39.

That made him the second Minnesota player to win the event. The other was J.R. Rider, who edged Robert Pack and Shawn Kemp in 1994.

The youngest player to win the award was Kobe Bryant, who was 18 when he won it as a rookie in 1997.

"I didn't bring them all out," LaVine said. "I know one of them that was talked about was the first one that was in my routine when we were practicing the other day."

Before wowing the crowd, LaVine received perfect scores of 50 on both dunks in the first round.

On his first dunk, LaVine started from the right side of the court, went through his legs and executed a reverse one-handed dunk that brought Houston Rockets guard James Harden out of his seat. On his second dunk, LaVine threw the ball from behind the left side of the 3-point line, went in between his legs and behind his back before dunking with his right hand in one fluid motion.

"I know I can go out there and do my dunks and I just wanted to make my family proud," LaVine said. "We're entertainers. We're in New York. I wanted to get everybody off their feet and have a good time. I was having a ball."

Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumlee finished third with a score of 76, getting 36 points by flying over his brother Miles of the Phoenix Suns for a left-hand dunk. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo placed fourth with 65 points after using Oladipo for assistance on his second dunk.

While LaVine amazed the crowd by soaring through the air, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry had a terrific perimeter display and claimed the 3-point contest with 27 points in the second round.

Curry made 13 shots in a row at one point, finished with 27 points in a terrific perimeter display and claimed the 3-point shootout.

Ten days after hitting 10 3-pointers and scoring 51 points against the Dallas Mavericks, Curry was just as brilliant in his fourth appearance in the event, making 13 straight before missing his last shot of the second round from the right corner in the money rack, which is worth two points.

Curry posted the most points of anyone in history in the finals, eclipsing the record of 25 set by Jason Kapono in 2008.

"I'm very happy right now," Curry said. "I've obviously been in it four times. So I wanted to win it and get it done."

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving placed a distant second as he was unable to win his second title in the last three years. He finished with 17 points in a round that saw him go 0 of 5 from the top of the key and miss four of five money balls from the left corner.

Curry's Golden State teammate Klay Thompson finished third with 14 points as he struggled after making six of his first 10 shots.

Thompson won the first round with a display similar to when he scored an NBA-record 37 points in the third quarter on Jan. 23. He had 24 points, hitting 16 of 25 shots, and advanced by beating the buzzer with a 3-pointer from the left corner.

Curry and Irving finished with 23 points apiece in the opening round. Curry hit 4 of 5 from the right corner to advance and Irving beat the buzzer to reach his first-round total.

Portland guard Wesley Matthews barely missed advancing, finishing with 22 points after making eight of his last nine shots.

Atlanta's Kyle Korver struggled to get into a rhythm and placed fifth with 18 points. Defending champion Marco Belinelli of San Antonio also had 18.

Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Reddick finished with 17 points and Harden had 15. Harden, the NBA's top scorer, missed eight of his last nine shots.

"I think this is definitely the best field that's ever been in a 3-point shootout," Curry said.

Earlier Saturday, Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh won the shooting stars competition for the third straight time by making all his shots in the shortest amount of time.

On a team with Hall of Famer Dominque Wilkins and New York Liberty forward Swin Cash, Bosh's group won both rounds, taking 30.8 seconds and 57.6 seconds and edging the team led by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.

Rockets guard Patrick Beverley, who was a replacement for Washington Wizards guard John Wall, won the skills competition by getting through an obstacle course and making a 3-pointer before Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight. - Reuters
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