Zach LaVine, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns stand out in All-Star events

Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange

TORONTO - Aaron Gordon kept raising the bar. Zach LaVine kept matching it.

Finally, LaVine was able to top the Orlando Magic forward to repeat as the NBA All-Star Game slam-dunk contest winner on Saturday.


LaVine, the Minnesota Timberwolves guard, won the contest with a perfect 50 in a final that required two extra dunks from each competitor.

In all, there were a total of seven perfect scores between the two in the contest with six of them in a row, which has never happened before in the event.

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"We should share the trophy because he's done some stuff I've never seen before," LaVine said.

LaVine joined Michael Jordan (1987-88), Jason Richardson (2002-03) and Nate Robinson (2009-10) as the only solo back-to-back winners of the contest.

LaVine also was MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, leading the U.S. team over the World team 157-154 when he scored 30 points.

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Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson won the 3-point shooting contest and Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns beat won the skills contest.


In the dunk contest, Gordon broke the string of six 50s when he was given a 47 on his final turn, leaving an opening for LaVine, whose between-the-legs dunk earned another 50 and another contest win.

"You know, that dunk that I got 47 out of 50, that's a dunk I've been doing for a while where you bring it behind your head and through your legs," Gordon said. "It's kind of hard to see without a replay. It's kind of very quick; it happens quick. And I probably could have done something else if I knew it was going to go like into double overtime or something like that. But at that point I had exhausted all my options."

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Gordon and LaVine were seen talking to each other during the event. LaVine said they were telling each other, "Let's just keep going, man."

"We were kind of mind-boggled a couple times because we got 49s and they were 50s," LaVine said. "Yeah, I think it was Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal, one of five judges) that gave us a 49. So we just had some back-and-forth conversation. He did such a good job, man. We were both deserving. I just pulled something out at the end that was crazy, so I'm just glad I did that. ...


"I wanted to come back this year and defend my title because Michael Jordan and all the greats did it. There's a lot of people that just won it once and didn't come back. I felt like I wanted to come back and try to prove myself again."

It was a spectacular night at Air Canada Centre leading to the All-Star Game on Sunday.

Thompson defeated teammate Stephen Curry, the defending champion, in the 3-point shooting contest with a 27-point effort in the final round. Curry had 23 points.

"He definitely shot well tonight," Curry said. "I still think I can hold my own in the competition. But the way that he finished off that second round was amazing, so trust me, the pressure of knowing what number he had to hit and making five out of five was fun to watch."

Towns beat out Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas win the skills contest. Towns won the final by finally sinking his 3-pointer that completes the course after each player missed several attempts.

Towns said it proved how much the skills of the big players have improved.


"The bigs were amazing today, and we were able to just come out with a 'W,' and I'm glad I was able to help the bigs come out with this trophy," Towns said. "This is bigger than me. This is for all the bigs out there, with the game changing the way it is, to show that bigs can stand up with guards and skillwise."

In what might have been one of the most entertaining Saturday nights before an NBA All-Star Game, the loudest cheers came for the dunk contest.

"If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50," Gordon said. "We would have been here all night. I didn't know it was going to be like that.

"I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn't going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it's like okay, that's a 50. Like I know we're going to have to dunk again."

LaVine was asked if this was the best dunk contest ever. "Yeah, and I don't want to get into - everybody's probably going to say something about Mike and all them and Dr. J.," LaVine said. "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. In my opinion, yes."

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