Posts Tagged ‘Taco Bell Skills Challenge’

Star-studded Three-Point Shootout field highlights All-Star Saturday Night

VIDEO: Star-studded field for Foot Locker Three-Point Contest

HANG TIME BIG CITY — Forget East versus West. After two years of NBA All-Star Saturday Night pitting one conference against the other, this time, it’s personal. And for once, long range marksmanship may trump dunks as the center of attraction.

NBA All-Star 2015Conference affiliations will be out the window on Saturday, Feb. 14, for the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. This year, it’s every man and woman for themselves in the annual Saturday night showcase.

In the Degree Shooting Stars competition, the two-time defending championship team of Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins and Swin Cash will reunite. Although this is a shooting competition, Team Davis, made up of Anthony Davis, Scottie Pippen and Elena Delle Donne, will have unbelievable length. Other participants include Golden State’s Stephen Curry and his father, retired guard Dell.

Eight players will compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, a three-round, obstacle-course competition that tests dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills. Seven of those players are point guards, including the defending champ, Utah’s Trey Burke, as well as All-Stars Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague and John Wall. The lone non-point guard in the field is Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, an All-Star swingman with well-rounded skills.

The Sprite Slam Dunk field was announced a few weeks ago. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee bring an energetic edge to the proceedings this season. Brooklyn’s Plumlee is the lone active NBA player with New York ties participating on Saturday night.

Yet even with the loaded dunk field, it may be tough to top the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, which is this year stocked with sharpshooters …

Marco Belinelli, Spurs — Last year’s defending champ, Belinelli has played just 30 games this season due to injury. Belinelli has the lowest 3-point percentage (38.2) of any player in the Three-Point Contest field.

Stephen Curry, Warriors — Drained 10 3-pointers Wednesday night in a 51-point performance against the Mavs. Earlier this season, became fastest player in NBA history to make 1,000 career 3s.

Klay Thompson, Warriors — At 44.6 percent, Thompson trails only Korver in 3-point percentage this season. Thompson and Curry are the only teammates ever to combine for 400 3-pointers in back-to-back seasons.

James Harden, Rockets — Fifth this season in 3-pointers made and attempts, and the NBA’s leading scorer at 27 points.

Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers — Other than Belinelli, Irving has the least made treys in the field, with 100. But last year’s All-Star Game MVP has a flair for the dramatic, and he knocked down 11 3s in his 55-point performance a few weeks back against Portland.

Kyle Korver, Hawks — On pace to have the greatest 3-point shooting season in NBA history, currently leading the NBA in 3-point accuracy at 53.2 percent. Korver is attempting to become the first player in history among qualifiers to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc and 90 percent from the free-throw line.

Wesley Matthews, Trail Blazers — Leads the NBA in 3-pointers made (151) and attempted (375). Has had 11 games this season where he made at least 5 3-pointers.

J.J. Redick, Clippers — Has made 114 3-pointers, putting him on track to break his previous high of 165. Currently shooting a career-high 43.2 percent on 3s.

State Farm NBA All-Star Saturday Night will be televised live exclusively on TNT on Saturday, Feb. 14, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

VIDEO: All-Star guards highlight Taco Bell Skills Challenge

All-Star Saturday Night participants to be announced tonight

HANG TIME BIG CITY — All-Star may be about the game, but you can’t have an All-Star weekend without the bonus features.

State Farm All-Star Saturday NightAnd while we already know who will be playing in the NBA All-Star Game, tonight we find out who’s participating in State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, the annual collection of contests where we discern the best dunkers, shooters and passers in the NBA.

TNT will televise the announcement of the 2015 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night participants during a special one-hour TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by pre-game show tonight at 7 p.m. (ET). The telecast will include the announcement of the Degree Shooting Stars, Taco Bell Skills Challenge and Foot Locker Three-Point Contest participants, as well as a preview of Sprite Slam Dunk which will include the previously announced participants Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee.

The dunk contest participants are a collection of some of the greatest young dunkers in the NBA. LaVine, in particular, has wowed throughout the summer and first half of the season with numerous highlight dunks. In the Shooting Stars, look for Dominique Wilkins to return and try for a three-peat, though he has teamed with Chris Bosh the last two years.

While the dunk contest is historically All-Star Saturday night’s showstopping event, this year the Three-Point contest could be one for the ages. Nine of the top 15 three-point shooters of all-time (by percentage) are active in the NBA today. Atlanta’s Kyle Korver currently leads the NBA while shooting 53.2 percent on threes. Korver already holds the career season three-point percentage, when he connected in 2009-10 at a .5364 rate.

Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have been called the greatest shooting backcourt of all-time. Curry recently all but confirmed his participation in the shootout, saying, “I’m doing that until I win it. I’m salty about that.” Thompson is behind only Korver, Curry and Portland’s Wesley Matthews in three-pointers made this season.

Other three-point specialists this season include Portland’s Damian Lillard, as well as Houston’s James Harden. Last year’s three-point Shootout winner, San Antonio’s Marco Belinelli, has battled injuries this season.

All-Star Saturday Night will be televised live exclusively on TNT on Saturday, February 14, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Live Blog: All-Star Saturday Night

HOUSTON — State Farm All-Star Saturday night is minutes away from lift off. Nick Cannon and Rob Nice are hosting the in-arena festivities.

I don’t know what everyone else came to see, but for me, All-Star Saturday night is always about the finale. It’s a chance for someone to etch their name in All-Star lore with a mercurial performance in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, much like that fella wearing No. 23 above did back in 1987.

Some of the All-Stars made their own predictions, several of them, assuming that James “Flight” White will rise above the crowd and do the most damage on his way to the title.

But first up we have the Sears Shooting Stars competition. I’m going with Team [James] Harden and the hometown advantage (he’s rolling with Sam Cassell, a man anyone would want on their team requires you to make clutch shots. (Team Westbrook should be dangerous, though, with Robert Horry and Maya Moore rocking with Russell Westbrook.)

— 8:37 — Team Westbrook handled business with the fastest time at 29.5 seconds. Team Harden kicked it off with a 37.9 as the West finished their business.

— 8:44 — Dominique Wilkins still has the touch. Knocks down the 3-ball for Team Bosh. They needed 50 seconds to finish, though.

— 8:45 — What’s up with Brook Lopez shooting 3-pointers like free throws? 1:07 for Team Lopez.  The East is down 20-0 going into the championship.

— 8:47 — So much for prediction. Team Bosh and Team Westbrook squaring advance and ready to square off in the championship round.

— 8:52 — I root for Swin Cash in whatever she does. Too bad she’s stuck on a team with Bosh and ‘Nique instead of say, myself and John Schuhmann … 1:29 for them in the championship round. The pressure is on Team Westbrook.)

— 8:54 — Team Westbrook can’t get it done. Team Bosh gets the win and Nique gets the MVP for knocking down both of his team’s half court shots. As my man Randy Moss would say, Straight (Swin) Cash Homie!

— 8:56 — Team Bosh collects the first hardware of the night in the Sears Shooting Stars. Nique is feeling good. Says he wants in on the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, too. (I’m kidding.)

— 8:58 — Gold medal winners from London, both men and women, getting some love on the big stage between events.


— 9:03 — Sounds like the dude from the Price is Right is reading off the rules for this event. I’m ignoring him and checking the shoe game of the contestants. Jeremy Lin kicks are wicked. Need to see an up-close shot.

— 9:05 — Hawks guard Jeff Teague clocks a 49.4, couldn’t get his passes or his 3-pointer from the top of the arc down. And he had the nerve to blow his final shot, going for the layup instead of the dunk. Later son.

— 9:06 — Pistons guard Brandon Knight learns from Teague’s mistakes and finishes with a dunk and a 32.2.

— 9:08 — Sixers guard Jrue Holiday rocks it with a 29.3. Made it look effortless. One of my favorite young players in the league. West has to beat 1:50.9 to topple the East in the contest.

— 9:12 — Jeremy Lin finishes in 35.8 but could have finished faster. He was stylin’ for the home crowd.

— 9:13 — Damian Lillard rips the course in the fastest time of the night so far, 28.8.

— 9:15 — Defending champ Tony Parker bows out with a 48.7. The East picks up 30 points thanks to Lin and Parker. Knight and Lillard move on to the championship round.

–9:17 — Alicia Keys gets some jumbotron love (she’s sitting next to Spike Lee). She looks marvelous, of course. We need to get her to do a theme song, “Hang Time is on fire!”

— 9:20 — Holiday with a 35.6, but Lillard snags a 29.8 for the win, 10 more points for the West and a trophy to go alongside that T-Mobile Rookie of the Year trophy he’s going to get in a few months. Well done young fella, the first rookie to win the event.

— 9:24 — East leads the west 40-30 after two events. They are playing for $500,000 in cash for charity.


— 9:32 — I had no idea this Phillip Phillips cat (or band, I’m not sure) sang this song. That’s my jam. I don’t watch American Idol, though, so I didn’t connect the dots. He smashed that performance.

— 9:35 — Steph Curry just warmed up from the corner rack and knocked down the first four without even looking at the basket. Ridiculous. Save some for the contest fella!

— 9:40 — Curry started slow but finished like … well, a Curry. He nets 17 points and Ryan Anderson is up next. He goes off from the start but struggles at the end, finishing with 18. Matt Bonner closes out the order for the West. His shooting stroke is awkward. But he finishes with 19 points, for a total teams score of 54.

— 9:46 — These Knicks kid reporters have stolen the show, clowning everyone and Nick Cannon on the big stage. You gotta love the kids.

— 9:52 — Kyrie Irving forgot to take his warm up shirt off and still finished with 18. And as you might expect, he knocked down his money ball on the last rack to beat the buzzer. Paul George is up next. Love this cat but he’s in the wrong contest. Maybe he meant to sign up for the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest? Steve Novak has to make up for PG’s 10. Novak finishes with 17 and the West wins the 40 points. Bonner and Irving for the title. Who picked those two for the final round? I had Curry and Novak. I’m done with the prediction business tonight.

— 10:02 — Kyrie just put on a show. Knocked down eight of his first nine and 17 of his first 18 shots before finishing with 23, two shy of the record. He even got LeBron James up out of his seat during his wicked stretch. Kid is on his championship grind. Bonner goes for 20. The Cavaliers might still be a lottery team but at least they’ve got Kyrie!


— 10:07 — Fall Out Boy is on stage and they must be from Chicago because they are wearing their Jordan throwbacks. Rock stars love skinny jeans and tattoos more than NBA youngsters. Now they’ve got 2 Chainz up here with them and he’s singing the hook after doing his rap verse. The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest participants come out while they remain on stage.

— 10:16 — Rudy Tomjanovich, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler are the judges tonight. Houston’s hoops Mt. Rushmore?

— 10:20 — Houston’s own Gerald Green kicks off the contest with a perfect 50 on his first dunk, a reverse tomahawk dunk where he had to duck his head or risk a concussion after he bumped his head on the rim. Crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

— 10:22 — James “Flight” White with the 45 on the two-handed runaway dunk from a step inside the free throw line. He missed his first attempt. Had he made it, the 50 would have been a lock.

— 10:24 — Terrence Ross gets an A for persistence, finally making a behind-the-back 180 after five misses. That was generous for a dude who missed that many dunks.

— 10:26 — Kenneth Faried nets a 39 for a 360 off-the-backboard dunk that looked way better on the replay than it did in real time.

— 10:28 — Eric Bledsoe missed his more aggressive between-the-legs dunk four times before opting for something a little easier to complete. He matched Faried’s 39.

— 10:29 — Jeremy Evans bags a 47 with an assist from Mark Eaton, he jumped over the big man’s head while the former Jazz center was sitting and holding a ball.

— 10:31 — Kevin Hart and Cannon are doing their stand up routine while clowning the All-Star’s baby pictures. I’m going home and burning every baby picture in the house!

Round 2

— 10:35 — Flight White’s inability to dribble the ball up the floor is going to cost him the title. He’s got all the hops in the world. But he has to go back to the lab and work on the handles. He botched his second dunk attempt and during the allotted 90 seconds and ended up missing his one untimed attempt. That 32 should end his night.

— 10:40 — Green just cut the nets out and is attempting to dunk it twice. Loving the idea. But this is a tough one, even for the cupcake dunker. And now we have to wait for someone to find the replacement nets for this rim. He timed out as well and then missed his untimed attempt for a matching 32. Somebody get Nique some shoes.

— 10:45 — Ross only needs a 33 to represent the East. Just do something normal and you are in. Hang time … he’s got a 49 and moves into the final. There is going to be some serious complaining about this format.

— 10:47 — Faried with a 50 for his between the legs jam after just two steps. Is it me or do the 50s get tossed around rather liberally these days.

— 10:48 — Bledsoe with a 50 of his own for the sick reverse windmill off the bounce.

— 10:49 — Evans dunks two balls but with no authority whatsoever, collects his 43 and advances from the West. There won’t be a whole lot of debating about what went on here.

— 10:53 — Judging by the looks on the faces of former dunk champions sitting around the floor, they’re not impressed with what they have seen tonight. Power used to be a dunk contest staple. Now the apparent degree of difficulty has trumped raw power. I’m trying to be diplomatic tonight. I’m going to need some time to digest what we’ve seen tonight before I start shredding these performances.


— 10:56 — Evans goes over a the cloaked painting of himself jumping over a cloaked painting of himself dunking and then he signs it. Nice touch but I’d have been more impressed if he snatched the cloak off the painting on his way up.

— 10:58 — Ross throws down a grimy leaning reverse jam that Rockets forward Terrence Jones bounced off the side of the backboard. Arguably the second best dunk of the night behind Green’s first attempt in Round 1.

— 11:01 — Evans has outlandish hops. Jumping over Dahntay Jones and doing his own version of the Jumpman pose showed off just how ridiculous his vertical is folks. RIDICULOUS!

— 11:03 — Ross trumps him with a between-the-legs, jump over the ball boy dunk that should seal the crown for the Raptors rookie.

— 11:06 — Ross takes the title. He made up for his rough start to the competition by bring out his best when it matter most. The West won the night, though, finishing with 140 points to the East’s 125.

Let the debate rage on about the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, though. Because no one leaves the Toyota Center tonight feeling like we saw the absolute best of the best ply their trade in this contest. Someone out there, someone hungry and creative, needs to step up. MJ and Nique aren’t walking through that door!

All-Star Saturday Night Predictions

LOS ANGELES — After detailed debate and two intense days of examination, the Hang Time crew has come up with our own set of predictions for All-Star Saturday night.

As you might expect, Blake Griffin‘s name came up often. Piling up 137 dunks by All-Star Weekend has a way of making you a favorite for the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

Same goes for Ray Allen in the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest. But there’s more to All-Star Saturday night than just those two competitions. We’ve got the Haier Shooting Stars and the Taco Bell Skills Challenge to think about.

So without further ado, our picks:

Steve Aschburner

Shooting Stars — Team Los Angeles

Skills Challenge — Derrick Rose

3-Point Contest — Paul Pierce

Slam Dunk — Blake Griffin

Fran Blinebury

Shooting Stars — Team Texas

Skills Challenge — Derrick Rose

3-point Contests — Ray Allen

Slam Dunk — Blake Griffin