LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns scored a record 29 points in the final round to capture the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Three-Point Contest, holding off the sharpshooting duo of Trae Young and Luke Kennard.
Towns’ record point total for a final round placed him just ahead of the Atlanta Hawks’ Young and Los Angeles Clippers’ Kennard, who both had 26 points on Saturday night in Cleveland, Ohio.
First out of the gate, Towns – a nearly seven-foot centre who loomed over his fellow competitors – made four of his first five attempts en route to the victory.
“I’m super happy to win,” Towns said. “It’s great, but I just have such high standards for myself… I’m the biggest critic of myself. There’s no writer, no blogger, no one who could critique and be harsher on their game than me on my game.
“I thought 30 was what I was going to need to win in the final round. I was able to scrape by with 29.”
Before being reduced to the three finalists, the three-point line-up consisted of CJ McCollum, Zach LaVine, Desmond Bane, Fred VanVleet and Patty Mills.
Saturday’s events also included the slam dunk competition and skills challenge.
The NBA All-Star Game is Sunday, with the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant captaining the two teams in the showcase event.
In the slam dunk contest, New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin soared to victory, beating Golden State Warriors big man Juan Toscano-Anderson.
Toppin iced the victory by going between the legs and tapping the glass before the dunk, completing an altered version of his earlier attempt for scores of all 9s and 10s.
Evan Mobley hit a clutch halfcourt shot as part of the Skills Challenge to lift Team Cavs to the victory.
Team Cavs needed one basket in the halfcourt shot phase and Mobley drained it. After Jarrett Allen missed, Mobley swished the team’s second attempt. That meant Team Cavs did not need to use the rest of its attempts.
This was a new event that featured three three-man teams. It involved shooting, passing, a relay and a half-court shooting drill.
On Friday, Cade Cunningham was named most valuable player of the Rising Stars game as Team Barry defeated Team Isaiah 25-20 in the final.
The Detroit Pistons’ Cunningham, who was the number one pick in the 2021 draft, scored five points in the final while teammate and crowd favourite Evan Mobley of the Cleveland Cavaliers also scored five.
The 37-year-old James will be playing in his 18th All-Star Game on Sunday, matching Kobe Bryant and moving within one of the record held by Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
This is the third All-Star Game played in Cleveland, along with 1981 and 1997.