Zach LaVine bests Aaron Gordon in a throw-down showdown at NBA All-Star dunk contest

TORONTO — The never-before-seen moves kept coming and so did the perfect scores.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon brought the long-comatose dunk contest back to life Saturday night at All-Star weekend, piling up a record six consecutive unblemished 50s from the judges between them at the Air Canada Centre.

Two dunk-offs were needed before LaVine, the second-year guard from UCLA who now plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, emerged the winner with a 50 on a move in which he jumped from just inside the free-throw line, put the ball between his legs and dunked with his right hand.

Gordon, the rookie forward from the Orlando Magic, had earned a 47 on his final attempt, when he lowered the ball toward his knees and bringing it back up with two hands for a reverse dunk.


LaVine joined Michael Jordan (1987-88), Jason Richardson (2002-03) and Nate Robinson (2009-10) as the only solo back-to-back dunk champions and said it might have been the best showing in the history of the contest.

“Everybody’s probably going to say something about Mike and all them and Dr. J,” LaVine said, referring to Julius Erving. “But in my personal opinion, man, we did some things that nobody else did. Like half the dunks we did were like professional dunker dunks, and it takes them four or five times to try it and make it, and we did it on the first try.

“It was crazy.”

Gordon introduced a beneath-the-legs dunk and used the Magic mascot in several of his dunks. His best move might have been when he grabbed the ball with one hand from the mascot spinning on a hoverboard and placed the other behind his head before throwing down a windmill dunk.


“Me and him are now like best friends,” Gordon said.

Thompson a winner

The fancy bottle of French Burgundy will have to wait.

J.J. Redick had planned to open one had he won the three-point shooting contest, but the Clippers shooting guard did not make it out of the first round of a competition won by Golden State’s Klay Thompson.


Redick was in a three-way tie for third place with Houston’s James Harden and Phoenix’s Devin Booker after the initial stage of the first round and eliminated Harden, 9-8, during a 30-second tiebreaker.

But Booker scored 12 points to advance to the final round to face Thompson and Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the defending champion.

Thompson made eight of his nine “moneyballs,” worth two points each, to finish with 27 points in the final round to Curry’s 23 and Booker’s 16.


Curry said afterward it was probably his last three-point contest. And Redick wasn’t in the mood to spend four figures on a bottle of wine.

“I’ll have to go with something a little less,” he said, “maybe a normal pinot from Burgundy or something.”

Get off their backs

It doesn’t just seem like intentional fouling is up around the league.


NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the so-called hack-a-Shaq strategy was being used roughly 5 1/2 times more this season than last, which could lead the competition committee to formulate an alternative rule owners could approve this summer.

One thing that could change as soon as this week is an increased number of flagrant fouls for situations in which players jump on opponents’ backs at the free-throw line. Silver said owners would discuss the issue Sunday and a memo could go out giving officials increased latitude to make a judgment call in those situations.

“We’re very concerned from a safety issue because it is a dangerous move,” Silver said.

Silver also said the league was continuing to look at adding regular-season games in international destinations and possibly holding an All-Star game overseas if the logistics could be worked out as part of a reconfigured schedule.



Score one for the big man. Minnesota 7-footer Karl-Anthony Towns sunk a three-pointer before Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is generously listed at 5 feet 9, to win the skills competition. Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson was eliminated in the first round of a contest that featured an obstacle course that tested dribbling, passing, agility and shooting abilities. . . . Jeff Ayres, whose second 10-day contract with the Clippers recently expired, scored 13 points on six-for-seven shooting for the West during a 128-124 loss to the East in the Development League All-Star game. The Clippers are still deciding whether to sign Ayres for the rest of the season; they may need additional backcourt depth with the loss of reserve guard Austin Rivers for a few more weeks because of a broken hand.

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