CLEVELAND (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns gave big men everywhere
something to shoot for.
Minnesota's 7-footer became the first center to win the 3-Point
Shooting Contest, defeating seven guards during the NBA's All-Star
Saturday and providing a memorable moment on a night the dunk
contest barely got off the ground.
Towns, who has spent his entire career proving doubters wrong
about his range, posted a 29 — the highest total in the competition
— during the final round to defeat Atlanta's Trae Young and Luke
Kennard of the Los Angeles Clippers, who tied for second with 26
New York's Obi Toppin won the four-person dunk contest, scoring
a 47 out of 50 in the final round by putting the ball between his
legs in the air, touching it off the backboard and re-directing it
through the rim.
Golden State's Juan Toscano-Anderson was second as the dunk
contest, once a marquee event that at times trumped the All-Star
Game, fell flat.
A trio of Cleveland Cavaliers, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and
Jarrett Allen, won the Skills Challenge.
After his surprising 3-point win, Towns accepted his trophy at
mid-court and immediately turned toward Hall of Fame center
Shaquille O'Neal sitting courtside in Rocket Mortgage
“I told you Shaq,” Towns said. “Vegas got the odds wrong.”
Towns was considered, well, a long shot among a field of shot
makers that included Young, Kennard, New Orleans' CJ McCollum,
Brooklyn’s Patty Mills, Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, Chicago’s Zach
LaVine and Memphis’ Desmond Bane.
“I wanted to prove I was the best shooting big man in the world,
and now I got the trophy to prove it,” Towns said.
There have been other big men crowned 3-point champions, but
Kevin Love (2012) and Dirk Nowitzki (2006) are considered power
“I think this is a nice little thing to put on that résumé,”
Towns said. “Big man hasn’t won in 10 years, and, of course, 10
years ago, a decade ago, who won it? The Wolves. It’s coming back
home where it belongs.”
The dunk contest started with some promise and fizzled fast.
Orlando's Cole Anthony caused a stir when he swapped his
sneakers for a pair of Timberland boots and then dunked in them
with an assist from his father, former NBA guard Greg Anthony.
Toppin said all the participants are great dunkers who wanted to
put on a show, and they all were encouraging each other.
“When Cole missed those two first ones with the Timbs on, I was
like no those Timbs are heavy," Toppin said. “I was like, we got to
boost his energy up. I was trying to get everybody on their
It worked, momentarily.
But Anthony couldn't complete his second dunk in three tries and
he was eliminated along with Houston's Jalen Green, who also
struggled while trying to impress a panel of Hall of Fame judges —
Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler and
The hometown Cavs added another moment to their impressive
season by winning the re-formatted Skills Challenge, which pitted
teams and not individual players.
Garland, Mobley and Allen teamed up to outperform Team
Antetokounmpo — MVP Giannis and his brothers Thanasis and Alex —
and a rookie trio of Detroit's Cade Cunningham, Toronto's Scottie
Barnes and Oklahoma City's Josh Giddey.
Mobley, a leading candidate for rookie of the year honors,
sealed the win by making a half-court shot on his first attempt,
allowing the Cavs to close the segment of the contest in 5.5
seconds and defeat Team Rooks.
The Cavs started the shooting competition off target as Allen,
hardly known for his outside touch, made just two shots in 30
seconds. However, Garland brought Cleveland back — and brought
their crowd to life — scoring 21 points.
However, the Cavs came out of the relay portion tied with Team
Antetokounmpo for second place and needed Garland to win a
shoot-off with Thanasis to place Cleveland in the final.
After Cunningham drained his 47-footer in 9.9 seconds, Mobley
calmly stepped into his winning shot.
“He’s one of a kind,” Allen said of his 20-year-old teammate.
“Defense, offense and now half court. The whole league knows Evan
by now. If they’ve ever driven to the paint, they definitely know
him, so the NBA should know him by now.”