Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry won his second 3-point contest, while Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis outdueled the Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic in the final round of the skills challenge prior to Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.
Curry scored 28 points in the final round of the 3-point contest, nailing his last “money ball” shot (worth two points) to beat Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley’s total of 27.
“I could hear the temperature rise a little bit,” Curry said of the reaction from the small crowd allowed in State Farm Arena.
“It was some awesome competition,” Curry said. “I’m glad I got it done.”
Curry became the seventh player to win multiple 3-point contests — his first title came in 2015 — and the first to do so in nonconsecutive contests. Larry Bird (1986-88), Craig Hodges (1990-92), Mark Price (1993-94), Jeff Hornacek (1998, 2000 — no contest in 1999), Peja Stojakovic (2002-03) and Jason Kapono (2007-08) are the other players to win multiple All-Star 3-point titles.
Sunday marked Curry’s seventh 3-point contest, tying him with Dale Ellis for the second-most appearances in NBA history, behind only Hodges’ eight.
Curry had 31 points in the first round to lead the contest. Also advancing were the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, with 25 points, and Conley, who took injured Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker’s spot in the All-Star Game and 3-point contest, with 28.
Tatum led off the final round with 17 points while making only one shot from the money ball rack. Conley nearly duplicated his first-round total, and it appeared it might be enough until Curry solidified his reputation as one of the top shooters in NBA history.
The Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Boston’s Jaylen Brown were eliminated in the first round of the 3-point contest. LaVine and Mitchell, both former dunk contest winners, were each looking to become the first player ever to win both the dunk contest and the 3-point contest.
All-Star Weekend was originally scheduled to be held at Sabonis’ home arena in Indianapolis, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the NBA to relocate the festivities to Atlanta.
Wearing his Pacers-themed jersey, Sabonis was able to overcome his runner-up finish to 2020 Skills Challenge winner and fellow big man Bam Adebayo of Miami.
“It was fun,” Sabonis said. “I wanted to come out and make sure I got it done this time.”
Domantas Sabonis defeats Nikola Vucevic in the final round to win the 2021 Taco Bell Skills Challenge.
The skills challenge featured two guards — Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Phoenix’s Chris Paul — and four forwards/centers. Doncic and Paul each picked up a first-round bye, while the big men duked it out.
However, after Sabonis and Vucevic defeated the New York Knicks’ Julius Randle and the Portland Trail Blazers’ Robert Covington, respectively, in the first round, each big man got by the guards to advance to the final round.
Each missed two 3-point shots before Sabonis sank his third attempt and then clenched his fist in victory.
Because the events took place just a short time before the All-Star Game itself, participants wore their game jerseys.
Covington, the only non-All-Star in either of the first two events and the only HBCU graduate in the NBA, wore his Tennessee State jersey and announced prior to the contest that he was donating two $25,000 scholarships to students at his alma mater.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.