It doesn't speak well of the Slam Dunk competition to suggest that the Three-Point Contest was the more exciting of the two, though to take that as a total slight would ignore the thrilling show that six of the NBA's sharpest shooters put together on Saturday night.
Players of all shapes, sizes and positions made up the field, with the title coming down to a matchup between an All-Star point guard better known for his handles (Kyrie Irving) and a 6'10" reserve (Matt Bonner) who prefers to spot up from the perimeter.
Irving came out on top with a superb performance in the final round, but he wasn't the only one to tickle the twine from the three-point line in a flattering way. Five of the six participants finished with at least 17 points in total, and Bonner, the eventual runner-up, had the highest score of all in the first round.
But how did each of the contestants measure up against his potential on the racks and his percentages on the season? And how did they all grade out thereabouts?
Read on to find out!
Few would mistake Paul George for a sharpshooter, which made his lackluster performance at the Three-Point Shooting Contest less than surprising. The first-time All-Star finished the first round with just 10 points—the fewest of any turned in on Saturday night—on 9-of-24 shooting (37.5 percent).
And yes, George didn't make it all the way through his racks. His slow release and long follow-through left him short on time going into the final rack in the right corner.
Which is a shame, considering that George has been best from the right corner this season, hitting 19-of-43 attempts (44.2 percent).
Perhaps George would've been better suited to a return trip to the Slam Dunk Contest. His showing was none too becoming of a guy who plays for the same franchise (the Indiana Pacers) for which Reggie Miller once starred.
So, this Kyrie Irving kid is pretty darn good. The budding superstar for the Cleveland Cavaliers poured in 18 points in the first round before falling just two points shy of tying the record for most points in a round in the Three-Point Contest with 23 to top Matt Bonner for the title.
All told, Irving hit a stunning 70 percent (35-of-50) of his shots, including 17 of his first 18 in the deciding round. With numbers like those, you can bet Kyrie will get his fair share of looks from beyond the arc during the All-Star Game on Sunday.
Steve Novak started off scorching hot before losing steam down the stretch. He appeared primed to challenge for the title after hitting 4-of-5 shots on each of the racks from the right side.
But four bricks from the top of the arc gave way to two more 2-of-5 showings from the left side for the New York Knicks specialist. He finished with 17 points on 13-of-25 (52 percent).
That's well above his season average of 44.7 percent from three, but still short of advancing to the second round.
Usually, a 56 percent shooting performance is good enough to win you something.
For Ryan Anderson, though, it wasn't quite enough to survive the first round of the Three-Point Shooting Contest. The sixth man for the New Orleans Hornets nailed four of the five money balls, but his 18-point total left him just one shy of Matt Bonner in the race to represent the West in the final round.
Oddly enough, Anderson shot best from his two weakest areas—the left corner (4-of-5 on Saturday, 6-of-20 on the season) and the right wing (5-of-5 on Saturday, 49-of-127 on the year).
If ever a 6'10" redhead could do something surreptitiously, then surely, Matt Bonner did just that during the Three-Point Shooting Contest.
Bonner, a lightly-used reserve for the San Antonio Spurs, snuck his way into the shootout with a helping hand from his brother Luke. He then slithered through the first round of the competition, hitting 12-of-15 to start to tally a West-best 19 points.
To finish, Bonner came surprisingly close to nipping Kyrie Irving's bid for a three-point title in the bud. He started off slow before heating up over the final three racks on the way to posting 20 points.
Too bad the most memorable moment of Bonner's night came before the competition started, when Rick Fox presented him with a "Red Mamba" t-shirt.
It appeared as though Stephen Curry was done in by his nerves early in the competition. How else would you explain him shooting 2-of-10 from the left side (including squadoosh from the left wing) after shooting 45.6 percent from those areas of the floor during the first half of the season?
Curry made it interesting in the end, though. He hit 12 of his final 15 shots, including the last three money balls, to bring his total to 17 points.
Not enough to advance—and far short of the 27 points he racked up during a YouTube'd practice round—but considering the slow start, not half-bad either.