TrueHoop: Daequan Cook
Blake Griffin was a heavy favorite to win the dunk contest and he didn't disappoint, capping his night with a dunk over a 2011 Kia Optima after receiving a pass through the car's moon roof from Los Angeles Clippers teammate Baron Davis.
Taller players tend to struggle with the voters when it comes to the dunk contest, but Griffin - at 6'10" - became just the third player 6'10" or taller to win the contest. Griffin joins Larry Nance in 1984 (6'10") and Dwight Howard in 2008 (6'11").
JaVale McGee, who lost to Griffin in the finals, would have become the tallest to win the contest at 7'0".
FOOT LOCKER THREE-POINT CONTEST
James Jones of the Miami Heat came away with the victory as he scored 20 points in the final round. Jones is the third Miami player in the last five years to take home the title, joining Jason Kapono in 2007 and Daequan Cook in 2009. The Heat have won four overall, tying the Celtics and Bulls for the most in the event's history.
Jones has been shooting the ball well this season, sporting a 42.1 three-point percentage, which is his highest at the All-Star break since the 2007-08 season when he was at 46.7 percent with the Trail Blazers. Jones was able to win the contest despite not receiving any passes. We mention this because Jones does not have an unassisted field goal this entire season.
TACO BELL SKILLS COMPETITION
Stephen Curry took home the title with a time of 28.2 seconds. It was the fastest by a winner in the event since Deron Williams set an event record of 25.5 seconds in 2008. Chris Paul was making his fourth appearance in the event, most of any player, but did not advance past the first round.
HAIER SHOOTING STARS
The Atlanta team made up of Al Horford, Coco Miller and Steve Smith came away with the win. Team Texas was trying to become the first team to repeat as champions since the event's inception at the 2004 Los Angeles All-Star weekend. The Atlanta victory came in 70.0 seconds, which is the slowest time by an eventual winner, smashing the previous "record" of 58.4 seconds by the 2009 Detroit team of Arron Afflalo, Katie Smith and Bill Laimbeer.
- Lang Whitaker will be live-blogging the draft Thursday with Brandon Jennings at SLAMonline: "No player had a crazier Draft night last year than Brandon — remember him showing up late to shake David Stern’s hand? — and only one or two rookies had better first seasons than Brandon. Few of the Draft 'experts' you’ll hear from on Thursday night (including myself) actually played in the NBA. But none of them averaged 15.5 ppg and 5.7 apg and led their team to the Playoffs last season."
- The Mies van der Rohe Award for roster minimalism goes to ... the Miami Heat. After dealing away Daequan Cook to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, Miami has only two players under contract for the 2010-11 season -- Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley. They also have a boatload of cap space to re-sign Dwyane Wade and add possibly two additional marquee names.
- Chalmers will be doing some important work in Lawrence, Kansas today: "The Mario V. Chalmers Foundation is donating $25,000 to LMH Endowment Association to establish the first 'Mario’s Closet.' Mario’s Closet will be a specialty shop for a variety of free or low cost accessories for cancer patients. Lawrence Memorial Hospital will operate Mario’s Closet and is anticipated to open in Winter 2010."
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus says the deal makes a lot of sense for the Thunder: "Cook is hardly a typical contract dump. His salary for next season ($2.2 million, per Sham Sports) is perfectly reasonable, and Cook brings to Oklahoma City a skill (perimeter shooting) that is still in relatively short supply there. The Thunder has a chance to look at Cook next season and see if he can return to usefulness as a reserve; if not, Oklahoma City can cut bait at the end of the year with no further obligation."
- Peter Keating revisits the D.R.A.F.T. Initiative developed by Jordan Brenner and Tom Haberstroh. Keating adds: "[K]eep an eye on Al-Farouq Aminu. He's from Wake Forest, the school whose players have most surpassed draft-day expectations. He's a sophomore, the best-producing class among early picks. And he's one of the top small forwards in a draft top-heavy guards and big men, so a team that grabs him around No. 7 or 8 could get great value."
- If you watched enough ACC basketball last winter, then you know big, savvy guard Greivis Vasquez is a prime candidate for 2010 draft sleeper. John Hollinger's Draft Rater projects Vasquez as the 10th best pro on the board. Vasquez worked out for the Magic on Monday. Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post broke down Vasquez's game, and enumerates why he'd be a particularly good fit in Orlando if he's still available.
- Lest we forget how well Evan Turner performed at Ohio State in 2009-10, Ed Weiland of Hoops Analyst spells it out nicely: "[T]his was almost a historic season by Evan Turner in how truly impressive it was. I can’t imagine how overboard the hype would have been if this season had been accomplished by a player from Duke or North Carolina. Turner scored like the best SGs, rebounded like a PF and passed like a PG. There wasn’t anything here not to like."
- Ted Leonsis, Homer, LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers and Gilbert Arenas all in one place.
- The salary cap and on-court implications of Corey Maggette's arrival in Milwaukee.
- Kansas Jayhawks Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry are making the most of their time in New York City, which included a visit to Sean John: "So swanky was the experience that at one point, when Aldrich and his girlfriend, KU student Britt Claflin, were in the back picking out the suit’s particulars, a woman emerged from the suite and said, 'Mr. Aldrich would like a cranberry juice.' Within seconds, a bartender chipped the ice, popped the top and served up a refreshing beverage."
- Evan Turner in pleated khakis, Al-Farouq Aminu in Urkel eyewear and Luke Babbitt in Naomi Wolf-inspired earth tones.
- Roland Lazenby on the prospect of Phil Jackson's retirement: "All across the NBA you can hear coaches breathing a sigh of relief. If Jackson retires, there'll be no pressure to meditate and read books."
- If you see an impatient J.R. Smith or DeAndre Jordan in line at the Apple Store, today is your lucky day.
- NBA Elite 11 will have some new features that will improve upon NBA Live: "'That's why when we started this year, we addressed the two biggest problems people have with basketball games. Number one: losing control of your player. If you played the basketball games the past few years, you know that there are times when you get locked into these animations and you have no control over your player as these long animations play out.' With 'NBA Elite 11,' Littman and crew think they've solved that problem by separating the upper body from the lower body with the use of the two analog sticks."
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
- Former Pistons coach Chuck Daly is drawing up plays from his hospital bed for Jay Wright to run for Villanova in the Final Four.
- Bad break for a good Sixers team:"[Thaddeus] Young sprained his ankle in Tuesday's 98-85 victory, and the Sixers learned the extent of that injury yesterday. An MRI exam also revealed a bone bruise. The team expects him to be sidelined for two to three weeks, which means he could miss the start of the playoffs."
- Dave D'Alessandro on Nets coach Lawrence Frank: "Business as usual for L-Frank. Still upbeat, still classy, still team-obsessed, still has his head in the game. He probably knows this is not going to end as well as he had hoped, but this isn't the kind of guy who burns bridges, and the only preemptive strike he believes in would be a 2-0 lead."
- SLAM's Lang Whitaker with a stellar Twitpic of "Derrick Rose Colored Glasses."
- Interesting conclusion from Ira Winderman on the Heat's backcourt situation: "In a moment of semi-candor, Spoelstra said before the game the loss of Luther Head means the team lacks a needed combo guard. Translation: Cook lacks the needed handle to play point and Quinn lacks the size to defend shooting guards."
- I'm still partial my original Darko in Chains tee, but FD has released some new swag in anticipation of a certain potential Finals matchup.
- Baron Davis has a confession: "I talk to my beard all the time. He has a mind of his own."
- Dwight Howard: Not of fan of the zoo, or Stan Van Gundy's sideline antics. Much more bullish on Philippians 4:13.
- Clips Nation on rookie guard Mike Taylor, and the Clippers' proximity to rookie explosions: "Taylor has started the last two games at the point guard, and scored 35 in the game before that against the Knicks. Did you know that the Clippers were involved in the top three rookie scoring performances of the season? (1) Eric Gordon, 41 points against the Thunder. (2) Anthony Morrow, 37 points against the Clippers. (3) Mike Taylor, 35 points against the Knicks. That's correct -- Mike Taylor's 35 are better than any game by O.J. Mayo or Russell Westbrook this season."
- At some point the exploits of Charles Charles MaGall will cross from funny to creepy. Right now, his persistent challenges to Dwyane Wade are funny. For now.
- Ross Siler reassures skeptical Jazz fans: "I just wanted to address the perception that some/one of you has that your Jazz beat writer is a closet Lakers fan. Although I covered the Lakers for three seasons, I write about them in this space only because they are my frame of reference in covering the Jazz now .. If I left tomorrow to cover another team, I'm sure I would annoy their fans by writing about the Lakers and the Jazz in a blog there. If you're interested, I grew up outside of Washington and still follow the Redskins/Wizards/Nationals more than anything."
- From the Golden State Warriors: "Referee Bob Delaney, who worked our game last night, visited the Oakland Police Department during his stay in the Bay Area this week. He spoke to a group of the officers and offered his support for the department following the tragic events on March 21, when four Oakland Police Offers were tragically murdered in the line of duty in what started as a random traffic stop. Delaney has been involved in the training of Police Officers for the last 30 years and said he considers the men and women of the OPD among the best in the world. The funeral for the four offices was held at ORACLE Arena last Friday, when over 20,000 people filled the venue to its capacity."
- Reader Eli Steinberger has a thought about Allen Iverson: "Allen Iverson to Europe. It's the perfect storm: 1. Aging superstar 2. Can still score on anyone 3. Refuses to take a smaller role - DUDE, just hop across the pond! Think he'd go for it? He'd get a HUGE paycheck, super-duper-star status, and as much PT as he wants. He could become the first guy to win an MVP in both leagues."
- The NBA launches a reality show in China. Buried toward the bottom of the story: "The NBA has opened three league retail stores in China and sales have topped projections by 70 percent. Even sales of Yao's jersey rank only No. 10 in China, trailing such American stars as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, according to the NBA. The league projects retail sales in China to rise 60 percent this year and another 70 percent in 2010."
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Welcome to All-Star Saturday night.
Since my spirit is dampened by the exclusion of Steve Novak from the Three-Point Shootout, and I've never forgiven the judges for robbing Dominique Wilkins of the 1988 Slam Dunk crown, I thought it would be a good idea to bring in some help for tonight.
Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game and John Krolik of Cavs the Blog will be joining me for the evening's festivities.
Since Rob "refuses to acknowledge the existence of the Shooting Stars competition," we're going to start our coverage with the Skills Competition.
Follow along, won't you...
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Welcome...
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: So I just got back from the 3D studio in the bowels of the arena which, I have to say, makes this competition a lot more interesting
JOHN KROLIK: End of shooting stars...well, Detroit's season hasn't gone the way they wanted it to, but I'm sure the fans are just as happy with this.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Also visited the practice court where the 3PT participants were warming up. Bibby looks strong
JOHN KROLIK: I've got Kapono. Until proven otherwise.
JOHN KROLIK: I like Parker, then Mo in the Skills comp. It's all about that mid-range J. If Rose hits it, it's his.
ROB MAHONEY: My heart says Roger Mason, but my brain just beat up my heart and told me to pick Kapono. Seems like a no-brainer.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: I like Harris in Skillz..Mason in 3P...but, as I said, Bibby was stroking it on the practice court 10 mins ago
JOHN KROLIK: Mason will win if it comes down to the last shot. Dude's an assassin, right down to the name.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Minus the little swastika on his forehead, natch.
JOHN KROLIK: Playlist so far: Brittney Spears, John Legend. I'm intrigued for the night.
ROB MAHONEY: I once heard that Roger Mason killed a man. No - AN ARMY OF MEN. Ruthless, truly.
JOHN KROLIK: I'm still steamed my boy OJ didn't take HORSE home. Dude hit some sick shots.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Just to review Rob's skills reforms.: Could they block two shots at the same time? Who could steal it from Chris Paul first? If all players were given a ball and a finite space, who would be the last man standing with an active dribble? Could they block a shot launched out of a machine like a clay pigeon?
ROB MAHONEY: I actually missed HORSE entirely. I heard it was kinda lame. Any consensus?
JOHN KROLIK: Could Rudy surprise us in the Dunk Contest tonight?
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Rudy is my bottom-dweller for the sole reason that he played THU nite in Oakland, Last night in the Rook/Soph game....So he's on a back-to-back-to-back [hat tip: Henry]
JOHN KROLIK: HORSE-Nobody was hitting at first, then guys hit some 40-footers, Rick Barry Free Throws, backwards, OJ went from the stands, but then Durant closed it out by just raining threes, which was a bit anti-climactic. Still liked it overall.
JOHN KROLIK: My bottom-dweller is Nate-I just don't think he's got 3 contests worth of dunks in him.
ROB MAHONEY: Rudy will disappoint only because no one expected anything from him, the rumors of awesome soccer-inspired dunks surfaced and got all of our hopes up, and then we'll inevitably be disappointed because well, he's Rudy.
JOHN KROLIK: Harris is going too slow around the guys.
ROB MAHONEY: Devin Harris has to slow down for the cameras to capture him. It's all part of the plan, John.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: A Sham-mockery
JOHN KROLIK: The difference is effort, Mo.
ROB MAHONEY: The real reason Mo Williams wanted to be in Phoenix for this weekend: SKILLS CHALLENGE, YO.
JOHN KROLIK: BALLBOYGATE! The NBA All-Star conspiracy against Mo Williams continues.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: Vintage Rose. Perfect, except for a missed J.
ROB MAHONEY: LeBron will now carry out his vendetta against ball boys everywhere.
ROB MAHONEY: How does Derrick Rose coast through the challenge and still smoke everyone?
JOHN KROLIK: And goodbye, Tony Parker.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: The PHX fans are pleased
ROB MAHONEY: We'll just forget that I picked Tony to win. Cool?
JOHN KROLIK: My friend put 20 bucks on TP and 10 on Mo. He is displeased right now.
JOHN KROLIK: Not really playoff intensity in the 1st round of the skills challenge.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: The problem with this event is that all the elasticity is in the jump shot...[and, to a lesser extent the passing]. So it's really a foul shot shooting contest.
ROB MAHONEY: When is the Gerald Wallace/Josh Smith/Andrei Kirilenko skills challenge? I'm ready to have my world turned upside down.
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: 1st Place: $35,000
2nd Place: $22,500
3rd Place: $9,000
4th Place: $9,000
JOHN KROLIK: You Gotta Get Anthony Randolph and Julian Wright in there too.
ROB MAHONEY: Derrick Rose was HUNGRY for that Skills Challenge title. Finished it nicely with a sweet dunk -- the best thing I've seen in the last two hours.