Center of Attention: Towns Wins All-Star 3-Point Contest | Basketball
By TOM WITHERS – AP Sportswriter
CLEVELAND (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns has given big men everywhere something to shoot for.
The 7-footer from Minnesota became the first center to win the 3-point shooting contest, beating seven guards in Saturday’s NBA All-Star Game and delivering a momentous moment on a night the dunk contest barely took off .
Towns, who has spent his entire career proving doubters wrong about his lineup, posted a 29 – the competition’s highest total – in the final round to defeat Atlanta’s Trae Young and Los Angeles’ Luke Kennard. Clippers, who finished tied for second with 26 apiece.
New York’s Obi Toppin won the four-man dunk contest, scoring 47 out of 50 in the final round by putting the ball between his legs in the air, tapping it off the backboard and redirecting it through the edge.
Golden State’s Juan Toscano-Anderson finished second as the dunk contest, once a showpiece event that has occasionally eclipsed the All-Star Game, fell flat.
A trio of Cleveland Cavaliers, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, won the Skills Challenge.
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After his surprise 3-point win, Towns accepted his trophy at midfield and immediately turned to Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal sitting courtside at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
“I told you Shaq,” Towns said. “Vegas got the odds wrong.”
Towns was considered, well, a long shot among a group of plan makers that included Young, Kennard, CJ McCollum of New Orleans, Patty Mills of Brooklyn, Fred VanVleet of Toronto, Zach LaVine of Chicago and Desmond Bane of Memphis.
“I wanted to prove that I was the best big shot in the world, and now I got the trophy to prove it,” Towns said.
There have been other big men crowned 3-point champions, but Kevin Love (2012) and Dirk Nowitzki (2006) are considered power forwards.
“I think it’s a nice little thing to put on that resume,” Towns said. “Big man hasn’t won for 10 years and, of course, 10 years ago, ten years ago, who won it? Wolves. He returns to the house where he belongs.
The dunk contest started with some promise and quickly fell apart.
Orlando’s Cole Anthony caused a stir when he swapped his sneakers for a pair of Timberland boots, then dunked them with the help of his father, former NBA guard Greg Anthony.
Toppin said all of the attendees are big dunkers who wanted to put on a show and they all cheered on each other.
“When Cole missed those first two with the Timbs, I was like those Timbs weren’t heavy,” Toppin said. “I was like, we need to increase his energy. I was trying to get everybody on their feet.”
But Anthony couldn’t complete his second dunk in three tries and he was knocked out along with Houston’s Jalen Green, who also struggled to impress a panel of Hall of Fame judges – Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler and Dominique. Wilkins.
The hometown Cavs added another moment to their impressive season by winning the reformatted Skills Challenge, which pitted teams against individual players.
Garland, Mobley and Allen teamed up to outscore the Antetokounmpo team – MVP Giannis and his brothers Thanasis and Alex – and a rookie trio of Detroit’s Cade Cunningham, Toronto’s Scottie Barnes and Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey.
Mobley, a leading contender for Rookie of the Year honors, sealed victory with a half-court shot on his first attempt, allowing the Cavs to close the contest segment in 5.5 seconds and defeat Team Rooks.
The Cavs started the off-target shooting competition as Allen, barely known for his outside touch, made just two shots in 30 seconds. However, Garland brought Cleveland back — and brought their crowd to life — scoring 21 points.
However, the Cavs came out of the relay portion tied with Team Antetokounmpo for second place and needed Garland to win a play-off with Thanasis to put Cleveland in the Finals.
After Cunningham drained his 47-footer in 9.9 seconds, Mobley calmly delivered his game-winning shot.
“He’s one of a kind,” Allen said of his 20-year-old teammate. “Defence, attack and now half-court. The whole league knows Evan now. If they’ve ever driven in the paint, they definitely know him, so the NBA should know him by now.
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