NBA All-Star dunk contest/3-point shootout live blog

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Final note to David Stern: This night only works if you have a couple athletic dunkers and a couple stars. You need Dwight. You need LeBron. You need the stars to make it work. Love Shannon and DeMar, need the star power. Especially in LA next year, where it is all about the stars.

Everyone else, thanks for hanging out.

10: 51 pm And the uninspiring winner is… Nate Robinson. He has the hat trick.

10:47 pm
Really DeMar, that was it? If you can’t leave from the free throw line, you can’t do that dunk. Already been done by MJ and the Dr., you’re measured against greatness with that dunk.

10:44 pm Nate with the power pass off the backboard dunk. That was nice, but may not be nice enough….

10:41 pm
Nate Robinson brings out the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders then does nothing in the dunk with them? That’s it, I want DeRozan now.

10:37 pm  Gallinari comes out and lobs to Nate for a nice one. Great tweet from football Rez Zone guy Andrew Siciliano: That was Gallinari’s most significant contribution to the Knicks since being drafted.

10:33 pm DeRozan wakes up the crowd with the dunk of the night: Weems with the pass off the side of the backboard, DeRozan trailing him grabs it midair and rams it home. Now that was a dunk contest dunk!

10:30 pm Kobe out to throw the ally-oop to Brown. And that was a quality dunk. But the scores not all that great. Can we see if Dwight Howard is in the house and draft him into this? Is it too late?

10:24 pm Nate with the best dunk of the first round — catch the bounce pass mid-air two hand roundhouse. He leads after round one. DeRozan second, then Wallace, Brown. Nobody blowing the doors off the place yet. Crowd loves Nate early. Everyone does. Except D’Antoni.

10:22 pm Brown missed a quality dunk, got cautious. Not how you win this thing. Wallace goes for the power reverse. Nobody has made their first dunk yet.

10:19 pm DeRozan with a nice first dunk, between the legs reverse. But unlike last night, had to do it twice to get it right.

10:12 pm For the record, I’ll take LetShannonDunk in this. But Wallace is close in my mind, although apparently nobody else thinks that.

10:07 pm Odd little note on Pierce: He’s the only Celtic not loathed in Los Angeles, despite the 2008 Finals. He grew up in Inglewood, not far from the Los Angeles Forum (home of the Showtime era Lakers) and still has a lot of friends in town.

10:05 pm
Paul Pierce gets hot, hits the money balls just like he tends to do at the end of games, wins it. He’s lovin’ it, a little more than we are all loving Daryl Dawkins jacket.

9:56 pm Any three point shooter with any ties to a D’Antoni team can’t hit a shot. Coincidence? Then defending champion Cook comes out cold. Pierce and Billups , the two guys moving the slowest of anyone in the competition, take on the rookie in the finals.

9:46 pm Don’t care if Steph Curry is a rookie, that is one of the sweetest strokes in the game right now.

9:41 pm
Wow, did Ray Allen give Paul Pierce three ball advice? He’s better than that.

9:30 pm Finally, something good, let’s get the three point contest going.

9:20 pm So Steve Nash is the most skilled player in the NBA. Yea, that’s a shocker.

9:14 pm From Atomsk: Kobe and KG sitting together; I say put them on the court, give each a
mic and have a trash talking contest.

9:12 pm Westbrook looked slow and inefficient. Williams looked slow but efficient. Westbrook did not listen to Coach Wooden: Be quick, don’t hurry. He should have hurried a little.

8:55 pm Anybody who watches Lakers games knows if you need the desperation half-courter at the buzzer, you need Jordan Farmar, not Pau Gasol. So Team Texas wins the Shooting Stars competition thanks to Dirk Nowitzki, the unofficial host for the weekend. Nice trophy, by the way. But really, where you going put that in the house.

8:47 pm Chis Webber, for the rest of the weekend and maybe beyond, is going to be hearing about how Nicole Powell is a better shooter than he is. And the ribbers will be right, as of today she is. Results don’t lie. Atlanta, been nice knowing you.

8:38 pm Wow Atlanta shooting stars, I’ve seen better shooting from the guys they pull out of the stand at NBA games for the chance to win a $500 at the local Indian casino.

8:31 pm For those of us watching at home on TNT, let us stop for a moment and pray together that the rodeo theme intro pieces are done for the night. I’ll light a candle in church tomorrow. Promise. Thanks God.

8:15 pm What better thing have you got to do on a Saturday night than watch the best dunkers in the world — or at least that would do the contest this year — and the 3-poing shootout as well? Exactly. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, you can make it up to your significant other then. Take them to a nice dinner out. No, the Olive Garden is not a nice dinner out, either. You can do better.

I’ll be watching that (and the shooting stars and the skills competition, where Derek Rose is out) and updating with commentary on the festivities throughout the night. Put your thoughts in the comments below (I may pull some of them up to the post). Also, follow along on Twitter.

Let’s have some fun.

Markell Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

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LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.

How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.

If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.

So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.

Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.

Dwyane Wade: Making Carmelo Anthony ‘fall guy’ doesn’t address the ‘real problem’

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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.

With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.

Wade:

LeBron:

Evan Turner:

Damian Lillard:

It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.

A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.

But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.

It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.

Report: Jimmy Butler planned to hold out from Timberwolves unless traded, informing team during Friday’s game

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According to one narrative, the Timberwolves decided after Friday’s loss to the Kings to trade Jimmy Butler.

But he might have forced their hand, resulting in his trade to the 76ers.

Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Butler decided he would play on Friday night, but he viewed it as the fork in the road. If the Timberwolves didn’t find a deal to fulfill his long-simmering trade request after that, he would begin to sit indefinitely, league sources told The Athletic.

The Kings defeated Minnesota 121-110 to push the Timberwolves to 4-9 and a winless road trip; Butler had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 41 minutes. He had played almost 124 minutes in the last three games, all losses, and at halftime of the final one, the Wolves were informed that this was it for Butler, sources said.

Butler reportedly held out for a game a couple weeks ago, though he and Minnesota both denied it. It’s quite believable he would’ve held out again if not traded. Still, informing the team during a game he’s playing would have been quite bold.

I’m not sure who actually blinked first. This could be an I-quit, no-you’re-fired (or vice versa) scenario. Both Butler and Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau are stubborn.

But the most important thing is Butler is gone and both sides can move on – whatever ugliness preceded the trade.