Damian Lillard, Team Pacers highlight All-Star Saturday night

by 24USATVFeb. 18, 2024, 6 a.m. 38
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard went back-to-back as the NBA 3-point champion, winning this year's competition on the final shot attempt Saturday night.

After getting through to the final round on a tiebreaker, Lillard made it to his final rack tied at 24 points with Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and needing just one shot to earn the victory.

Lillard missed the first four shots from the left corner before sinking the final one to earn the win.

"I mean, it's only right that I do it with some drama," Lillard said on the TNT broadcast following his victory. "I didn't know what I had. I just heard the crowd going, 'Ooh.' I knew I had to make the last shot to get the win."

Lillard became the eighth player in NBA history to win multiple 3-point contests and the first to go back-to-back since Jason Kapono won in 2007 and '08. Lillard also won it last year with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Like the skills challenge that preceded it, the 3-point contest required a tiebreaker after four of the eight shooters in the first round finished with 26 points -- Lillard, Young, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns and Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton.

Since only three players could advance to the final round, a 30-second tiebreaker was held to see which three would move on. Haliburton finished with just 12 points in that event, so the others advanced.

It took a pair of tiebreakers, but the hometown Team Pacers started NBA All-Star Saturday night with a victory in the skills challenge.

After Team All-Stars won the final challenge to tie the score at 200, the two teams faced off in a half-court challenge. Haliburton clinched the victory by draining his shot for Team Pacers, who won in roughly half the time it took Team All-Stars.

"We felt like there was a lot of energy in the building," Haliburton said. "We heard in our intros how loud the crowd gets, and that was exciting for us to be a part of.

"This whole weekend has been exciting for us to be a part of, I think we all can agree, being able to do stuff in the community, doing brand activations, all this stuff, has been a lot of fun. And good for people to see our city for what it is, rather than when they come here, they don't really go out because we play the next day or whatever. They can actually enjoy the city for what it is."

Team Pacers comprised Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin and Myles Turner, while Team All-Stars was made up of three Eastern Conference All-Stars: the Hawks' Young, Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes and Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey.

The third team involved in the Skills Challenge was Team Top Picks, which featured 2020 No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards, 2022 No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero and 2023 No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama.

Haliburton put an exclamation point on Team Pacers' win in the first challenge, a relay event, finishing things off by going between his legs to throw it off the glass before hitting a dunk for the emphatic win.

Team Top Picks had a chance at winning the first challenge, but the right-handed Edwards opted to shoot his 3-pointers left-handed, missing all three.

The second challenge was a passing event and brought on a tiebreaker when Team Pacers and Team All-Stars each finished with 72 points. In the tiebreaker, Team Pacers earned a 92-90 win.

In the final shooting round, Team All-Stars dominated the event to tie the contest since the first two challenges were worth 100 points and the final round was worth 200. Team All-Stars took 58.8 seconds to hit its half-court shot in the tiebreaker, opening the door for Haliburton to earn the victory for his team.

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