Stephen Curry, Zach LaVine shine in skills competitions
By: Austin Gill ~Copy Editor~
For those reluctant to watch the NBA’s annual All-Star game and its characteristic lack of defense, 2015 offered much of the same.
Sunday’s game featured some wild shots and acrobatic finishes, but the low-effort spectacle was, as usual, absurd.
The West outlasted the East, 163-158, behind Russell Westbrook’s 41 points. Westbrook, a point guard, tacked on just one assist to earn the game’s MVP award.
It was not the All-Star game, but the three-point contest and the dunk contest that proved rousing for All-Star weekend.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry drained a magnificent 13 straight 3-pointers in the final round to beat a phenomenal field of shooters in the Footlocker 3-Point Contest.
Teammate Klay Thompson advanced to the final round with a high score of 24 points in the first, and Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers and Curry followed close behind with 23 apiece.
Wesley Matthews’ 22 points in the first round were not enough to advance, marking the first time in NBA history that a player who scored 19 or more in the first round was eliminated.
Curry’s dominant 27 points in the final round earned him this year’s crown, easily trumping Thompson’s 14 and Irving’s 17.
The dunk contest has gradually lost some of its luster over the years, but that didn’t deter Minnesota’s rookie Zach LaVine from dazzling in his own one-man show.
LaVine paid homage to the movie “Space Jam,” which he credits for inspiring his basketball career, by donning a Michael Jordan Toon Squad jersey for his first dunk.
In one fluid motion, LaVine promptly buried an awesome through-the-legs dunk that left judge Julius Erving stunned.
For his second dunk, the elastic-limbed rookie wrapped the ball behind his back with his left hand before throwing it down with his right.
He scored a perfect 50 on both opening dunks en route to the 2015 crown. Fans immediately drew comparisons to Vince Carter’s legendary performances, and it seems LaVine has singlehandedly revived the dunk-contest.
Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Orlando’s Victor Oladipo were simply no match for LaVine, who said he would even beat LeBron James in a dunk-off.
While this remains to be seen, one thing is certain: it’s going to take quite a performance to beat LaVine or Curry, who are sure to be present in next year’s All-Star Weekend.