Knicks’ Robinson earns third consecutive dunk title
AP Sports Writer
DALLAS – New York’s Nate Robinson is the NBA’s first three-time slam dunk champion.
Robinson barely won another title during Saturday night’s All-Star festivities, garnering 51 percent of the fan vote to hold off Toronto rookie DeMar DeRozan, who advanced to the final round after getting a perfect score of 50 on his second dunk of the first round.
The final dunk for the 5-foot-9 Robinson came when he threw the ball off the backboard, grabbed it and turned midair for a two-handed backward slam.
Robinson was joined on the court for the final round by several Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, though they weren’t used as props for any of his dunks.
“They’re way too beautiful for that,” Robinson said. “I just wanted them to stand over there and cheer.”
After his final slam, Robinson celebrated by grabbing a pair of silver and blue pompoms from one of them and waving them in the air.
DeRozan got a spot in the competition by winning the first-ever All-Star slam dunk-in, beating Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon at halftime of the rookie challenge on Friday night.
Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace and Shannon Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated after the first round in Saturday night’s marquee event.
DeRozan got into the final round after recording a 50 when he caught a pass off the side of the backboard and slammed it with his right hand on the other side of the hoop.
The five 10s came from a judging panel that included former dunk champions Spud Webb and Dominique Wilkins. The 5-foot-7 Webb, a Dallas native, won the event the only other time it was held in his hometown in 1986.
Fan voting determined the winner after Robinson and DeRozan both dunked twice in the final round.
Robinson won the dunk title as a rookie in 2006, then beat Dwight Howard to win again last year.
While Robinson reigned again, Boston’s Paul Pierce arrived for All-Star weekend wanting to make up for an embarrassing performance.
Consider it done.
Pierce won the 3-Point Shootout, proving his lackluster performance the last time he was in the competition was an aberration.
“I wanted this really bad,” Pierce said after celebrating with teammate Kevin Garnett, who was sitting courtside. “They don’t look at me as a shooter, but more of a scorer.”
Pierce had 20 points in the final round, making all five of the 2-point money balls, to beat Golden State’s Stephen Curry (17) and Denver’s Chauncey Billups (14).
When Pierce last competed in the Shootout in 2002, he scored only eight points – what he called leading into this week’s competition “almost a record low.”
Defending 3-point champion Daequan Cook of Miami was eliminated after the first round. His 15 points were the same as Phoenix’s Channing Frye and New York’s Danilo Gallinari. Curry had 18 points in the first round, while Pierce and Billups had 17.
Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash also was a winner Saturday night, beating the young guys to capture another Skills Challenge title.
Nash, who turned 36 last Sunday, became a two-time Skills champion when he beat a trio of 20-somethings.
It’s been quite a run this weekend for the Canadian, who helped light the Olympic cauldron at Friday’s opening ceremonies in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also will be on the court Sunday for the All-Star game in the same area where he played from 1998-2004.
With a time of 29.9 seconds in the final round, Nash beat Dallas native and 2008 champion Deron Williams of Utah, who is 11 years younger.
“I got my second wind,” said Nash, who jokingly asked his younger opponents before the competition if he could start from the second station instead of doing the entire obstacle course.
Nash, whose other Skills Challenge title came in 2005, didn’t have any practice on the course before the competition.
“I tried my best without my warmup,” Nash said. “I missed the run-through because I was a little disjointed from the trip. … I was kind of hoping for the best.”
Milwaukee rookie guard Brandon Jennings and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, who is 21, were eliminated after the first round. Westbrook replaced defending champion Derrick Rose of Chicago, who sat out with a bruised right hip.
In Saturday night’s opening event, hometown favorite and former Nash teammate Dirk Nowitzki hit a shot from midcourt to cap Team Texas’ victory in the Shooting Stars competition.
Texas, which also consisted of San Antonio Silver Stars player Becky Hammon and former Houston guard Kenny Smith, beat Team Los Angeles with a time of 34.3 in the finals. The Texas trio needed 13 shots to complete the final round.
Lakers All-Star Pau Gasol, former NBA player Brent Barry and Marie Ferdinand-Harris of the Los Angeles Sparks came in second, finishing in 55.2 seconds.
Los Angeles hit its first five shots in the finals in less than 30 seconds, but only had a couple of chances from midcourt to beat Texas’ time.
Atlanta (Joe Johnson, former Hawks guard Steve Smith and Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream) and Sacramento (Tyreke Evans, former All-Star Chris Webber and former Sacramento Monarchs player Nicole Powell) were eliminated in the first round.
Texas completed the first round in 1:28 and Los Angeles finished in 1 minute.
Three-person teams have to hit a total of six shots from different locations on the floor, culminating with a shot from midcourt.
In the skills competition, the course started with a layup or a dunk, then a weave through pylons before having to complete a chest pass, a bounce pass and a jumper from the top of the key. Then they have to make an outlet pass, go through more pylons and end with another layup or dunk.
Nash completed every obstacle in the final round in one try – save for a second shot from the top of the key. Williams was perfect until needing five shots at the outlet pass, when he had already exceeded Nash’s winning time.
Saturday night’s events were at the American Airlines Center, but Sunday’s All-Star game will be at Cowboys Stadium, where more than 90,000 people are expected to attend.