Midway through the fourth quarter Sunday in Indiana, Russell Westbrook continued his tradition of blocking his opponent’s meaningless shots that were launched after the whistle.
This is not unusual, as Westbrook does this all the time — even to opposing team’s mascots. What made this particular instance unique was the fact that Westbrook almost killed himself blocking a second attempt after already rejecting the first one.
Garnett was viewed as a [jerk] back in the day for doing this, but the practice has since gained its fair share of fans. Shooters can gain confidence by seeing their shots splash through the basket, so there’s an argument to be made not to give up freebies, and maybe to try and intimidate a little bit instead.
But twice on one possession? That’s taking things to the extreme, even by Westbrook’s standards.
Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.
Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.
Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest
In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.
And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.
The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.
There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)
“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”
The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.
“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”
So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.
Gordon was close to perfect.
Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.
Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk
TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night: