Wall, East honored as best dunkers

Unpublished

New Orleans, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - John Wall of the Washington Wizards threw down an impressive jam after taking the ball from team mascot G-Man and led the Eastern Conference to a sweep of the dunk contest as part of All-Star festivities Saturday night.

The East got victories from 2013 dunk champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers to win the newly-formatted competition.

The conference that won three head-to-head battles first would be declared the winner, and it was no contest. Ross won his matchup, 2-1, with Portland's Damian Lillard with a between-the-legs jam after taking the ball from musical artist Drake.

Then came a clean sweep from the judges, NBA legends Dominique Wilkins, Julius Erving and Magic Johnson, in the battle round between Golden State's Harrison Barnes and Indiana's Paul George. Barnes missed his first two attempts and his third was not impressive, a 2-handed flush. George, meanwhile, put on a 360- degree, between-the-legs move to throw down his attempt.

Then came the West's final chance to stay in the competition. They sent out Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore, who had Kings minority owner Shaquille O'Neal play a part in the dunk. O'Neal sat in a king's throne and had McLemore jump over him for a 1-handed jam.

Shaq delivered a gold crown on the top of McLemore's head, but on this night it was Wall who became the dunk king. With G-Man facing the basket, Wall raced in and took the ball, his legs splitting the mascot before putting down a thunderous reverse jam.

"It was only my second time doing it," Wall said of the dunk. "My first time was on Thursday. So I just felt comfortable with myself and I knew it was a dunk that hasn't been done before. And I knew it was the main thing with coming up with the creativity, and it worked out in my favor."

Wall swept all three votes and was honored by the fans in a vote via text and web as dunker of the night.

"The slam dunk has returned," proclaimed Erving after delivering the final vote of the night.

It marked the first time in 26 years that three All-Star competed in the dunk competition. In 1988, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan and Wilkins were in the event when Jordan won the crown in front of the hometown crowd in Chicago.

In the format change this year, three players representing the East and three in the West competed in the two-round format. There was a freestyle round in which the dunkers from each conference had 90 seconds to showcase their talents by throwing down as many dunks as they wanted. The panel of judges then chose a winning conference, which was the East.

The East had the highlight jam of the night in the freestyle round when Wall threw the ball off the shot clock before George threw down a one-handed power jam.

The East and West split four events on the night. Led by Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, Team Bosh of the Eastern Conference defeated Team Durant of the Western Conference to win the Shooting Stars Challenge.

Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs won the 3-point contest and the tandem of Lillard and Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz won the Skills Challenge competition.

Belinelli beat Washington's Bradley Beal, 24-18, in the overtime round after each scored 19 points from beyond the arc in the championship round.

Belinelli is the third non-American player to have won the contest, joining Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic.

"It's like a dream come true," Belinelli said. "I remember when Larry Bird was in the 3-point contest and he won again, and now I'm in the same place. I won this trophy."

Burke's layup completed the obstacle course, which tests a guard's dribbling, passing and shooting abilities, in 45.2 seconds. That was 0.1 seconds better than Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic.

"I started to hear the crowd, and you continue to glance up at the clock to see how much time you got," Burke said. "I just tried to get there as quick as possible. I looked up and I thought it was tied."

It was the second straight Shooting Stars title for Team Bosh, which also included Wilkins and Swin Cash of the WNBA's Chicago Sky. Bosh hit the winning halfcourt shot to finish the competition in 31.4 seconds.

Kevin Durant of the Thunder, NBA legend Karl Malone and Skylar Diggins of the WNBA's Tulsa Shock went first in the championship round and had a time of 43.6 seconds.

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