It was upset time for a pair of two-time defending champions in Saturday night’s NBA All-Star game program at Staples Center.
The streak of dunk championships for Golden State’s Jason Richardson ended when Indiana’s Fred Jones made a crowd-pleasing one-handed jam off a bounce pass to himself.
Jones had to sweat it out at the end. Several of Richardson’s attempts did not count because he lost control of the ball, yet he needed only a score of 42 to win for the third year in a row. But in his final chance, Richardson slammed the ball off the rim trying to complete a difficult dunk.
“I was concerned, but I knew the right thing would happen,” said Jones, who earned a 50 on two dunks in the competition. "[Richardson] is a great dunker. He’s a champion. He probably deserved to get a few more opportunities.”
What made Jones’ winning dunk so good was not so much the creativity but the effort. From the right wing, Jones lobbed the ball in the air and bounced it slightly to the left side of the rim. In one motion, he turned his back to the basket and fully extended his right hand to grab the ball before throwing it down.
It was a perfect dunk. At least that’s what the judges, former Lakers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes and Norm Nixon, thought, because they each gave him a 10.
Richardson’s best dunk was his second in the opening round. After watching Jones complete a power dunk off a self-bounce pass, Richardson woke up the crowd with a pass off the backboard that he finished after taking the ball between his legs.
Another reigning champion, Sacramento’s Peja Stojakovic, was dethroned in the three-point shootout. Denver’s Voshon Lenard took home the title with a late shooting streak to finish with 18. Stojakovic had 16 and Philadelphia’s Kyle Korver 15.
Sacramento’s Stojakovic had a chance to send the event into overtime, but his last shot bounced off the rim.
“I did not want to have a shoot-off with him, so I’m glad he struggled toward the end,” Lenard said.
In the first round, Stojakovic registering an event-best 21. But he could not maintain his shooting rhythm in the final.
“I started good, then got a little cold during the fourth rack,” Stojakovic said
New Orleans guard Baron Davis, a Los Angeles native, won the Sports Skill Challenge over the Lakers’ Derek Fisher in the finals.
Davis handled the competition, a two-round timed obstacle course event with dribbling, passing and shooting stations, like a veteran. He recorded the best time of the night at 28.7 in the first round. He won the event in the finals with a time of 31.6. Fisher finished in 37.6 after earning a mark of 31.6 in the preliminaries.
In the RadioShack Shooting Stars competition, which featured three-person teams shooting from six locations on the floor, the Los Angeles team (Magic Johnson, Lisa Leslie and Derek Fisher) was the defending champion, but the favorite was the San Antonio team with Steve Kerr, Manu Ginobili and Jennifer Azzi.
But once the event began, it was a different story. Fisher made the final halfcourt shot to give the Lakers the title for the second year in a row. Fisher’s basket gave the Lakers a time of 43.9 seconds, ahead of the Spurs’ time of 46 seconds, which was capped by Azzi’s halfcourt shot.