Terrence Ross new slam dunk champ
HOUSTON -- Terrence Ross had to settle his nerves at the start of the All-Star dunk contest. By the end, he was calming down a ball boy he needed as a prop for his winning slam.
The 6-foot-6 Toronto rookie leapfrogged Michael Costolo, the son of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, whipped the ball between his legs and hammered home a one-handed dunk to beat defending champion Jeremy Evans in the climax to All-Star Saturday.
"I told him the day before that I was going to jump over him, but I never told him I was going to go through the legs," Ross said. "He was kind of nervous. When I first grabbed him, he said, 'You're not going to hit me, right?' I said, 'No, I'm not going to hit you.' "
Ross seemed to be unsure of himself in the beginning, botching his first three dunk attempts in the first round. The crowd exploded when he finally pulled it off -- flicking the ball behind his back on the way up and hammering home a one-handed dunk.
He earned a perfect 50 and immediately relaxed.
"This is honestly my first really big dunk contest, so I was nervous," said Ross, the eighth overall pick in last year's draft out of Washington. "And not making a dunk didn't make it easy. I had to get myself together."
Ross earned 58 percent of the fan vote in the championship round, outdoing Evans' prop-filled display. Evans leaped over a painted portrait of himself and earlier former Jazz giant Mark Eaton, who sat on a box and held up the ball for Evans to swipe on his way to the rim.
Kenneth Faried, James White, 2007 dunk champion Gerald Green and Eric Bledsoe also were in the field, while Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade were among the All-Stars taking in the show.
Green started if off by taking a lob from Indiana teammate Lance Stephenson off the side of the backboard and soaring in for a reverse slam. White played off his "Flight White" nickname when he split two columns of cheerleaders dressed as flight attendants for a powerful two-handed dunk.
Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Julius Erving, singer Alicia Keys, rapper Drake, director Spike Lee and comedian Chris Tucker were among those sitting courtside. Keys is performing at halftime of Sunday's All-Star Game.
Irving, who will play in his first All-Star Game on Sunday, started 7 for 7 in the final round and finished with 23 points -- two shy of the record shared by Craig Hodges and Jason Kapono. Bonner finished with 20 points in the final round.
Players had one minute to take 25 3-point shots from five positions around the arc. Bonner had the highest score of the six players in the first round (19). Irving, who also played in Friday night's Rising Stars Challenge, had 18 points in the first round.
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"Yeah, this weekend was just basically about earning everybody's respect, and getting a chance for people to see me that don't usually see me," Irving said. "We're not nationally televised. This weekend is to show my face to the fans and get everybody acclimated to my face in the league."
The teams had two minutes to make shots from six locations on the floor, including one from half court.
Wilkins sank a half-court shot for a team time of 1 minute, 29 seconds. Westbrook rimmed out several half-court tries and time ran out before he and his teammates could make one.
The NBA tweaked the scoring format for this year's All-Star skills exhibitions, with teams representing the East and West competing for charities.
The competition involves players navigating a dribbling circuit, taking a 3-point shot, hitting targets with passes and driving for a layup. Lillard swished his first 3-point attempt in his winning run and finished the obstacle course in 29.8 seconds. Holiday's time was 35.6 seconds.
"I think the biggest thing for me was to try not to be too cool and speed through it," Lillard said, "but take my time with the passes and shots."
The NBA tweaked the scoring format for this year's All-Star skills exhibitions, with teams representing the East and West competing for charities. The Western Conference defeated the East 140-125. The West earned $350,000 for charity and the East earned $150,000.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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