Taco Bell Skills Challenge

Tony Parker is your 2012 Skills Challenge champion


The Taco Bell Skills challenge was technically the second event on the agenda for All-Star Saturday night in Orlando, but with the first featuring teams of NBA players past and present, along with WNBA players launching half-court shots to ultimately determine the winner, well … we passed.

The Skills Challenge, though, is a little bit more interesting. It features some of the game’s top guards — this year’s field consisted of Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Tony Parker — running through an obstacle course of sorts where they need to showcase their dribbling, passing, and shooting abilities.

Tony Parker outlasted the rest of the field with a time of 32.8 seconds in the final round to take home this year’s trophy.

Wall and Rondo actually tied after the first round at 32.8 seconds each, so they had to go head-to-head to determine who would advance. Rondo cruised, but Wall struggled with his jumper, missing three straight which slowed him down considerably. He ended up missing the dunk too, but by that time he was already out, so he threw the ball off the backboard to himself to end his night with an entertaining jam.

Williams was the fastest to finish the first round with a time of 28.3 seconds, but missed four straight jumpers from the top of the circle in the final round which cost him. He finished with a time of 41.4. Rondo had trouble with the bounce pass, missing three in a row before advancing through the course to finish it in 34.6 seconds.

“For me, the bounce pass is key,” Parker said afterward, while answering serious questions about a non-so-serious contest. “You can make the bounce pass, you’re good. And the jump shot too, because you stay for like three hours in the locker room and you’re cold, and you have to take a jump shot like that, it’s tough.”

Not that tough. Parker missed only one bounce pass in his run to the title, and finished with a time of 32.8 seconds that was good enough to win it.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Clippers ready to win West?

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With our PBT Extra videos, we are previewing the entire NBA by using bold predictions, starting in the Pacific Division (we already did the Warriors).

Some of those predictions come from fans on Twitter where I had sent out a request, including the bold prediction for the Clippers.

It could happen, they are certainly contenders. But two things need to happen.

The big one is their defense, which was middle of the pack last season, needs to move into the top 10 (and DeAndre Jordan needs to play consistently like a guy who is third in Defensive Player of the Year voting).

Second is the new and improved bench unit of Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, and Jamal Crawford (he’s not new) need to mesh into a unit. Those are three guys who like to create for themselves and make questionable shot choices, getting them play well with others could be a bumpy road.

Stephen Curry gives high five while his shot is in air (video)

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Stephen Curry said the defending-champion Warriors would have no problem picking up where they left off.

His swagger certainly remains intact.