CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s about how you finish.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum trailed in all three of his Skills Contest races on All-Star Saturday night, none worse than against sharpshooting rookie Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks in the championship matchup. Young beat Tatum through the court, lined up his three, and while he did Tatum bombed away from half court on the run and… he called bank so it counts.
Tatum is your 2019 Skills Contest champion.
“The previous two rounds, the guy was ahead of me. Figured I’d let him get a shot attempt so I could get closer to the three-point line,” Tatum said. “I didn’t want to give Trae a chance. I honestly didn’t know I was going to hit the shot, but I had to give myself a chance, throw it up there, and it worked out for the best.”
Tatum dropped 30 for Team USA in its win in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night, then gets the win Saturday in Skills. It’s been a weekend for Tatum.
Did he plan to fall behind in every race just for the drama?
“No, that was not the plan,” Tatum said. “I couldn’t get the pass down on the first try, but I was trying. I wanted to win.”
The competition was fairly entertaining from the start.
Karl-Anthony Towns helped with the random matchups, and that led to one first-rounder everyone wanted to see: De’Aaron Fox vs. Trae Young. Fox led the whole way, by quite a bit as Young struggled with his passing into the tire, but when Fox missed his first three it allowed Young to shoot the long-range running three, and he drained it for the win.
In the other first-round matchups, Nikola Jokic beat Nikola Vucevic, Mike Conley had a comfortable lead over Jayson Tatum but couldn’t hit the three and when Tatum got there he drained his for the win, and Doncic his three before Kyle Kuzma for the win.
In the second round, Tatum was behind again but beat Jokic by draining his first three, and Young had a comfortable win over Luka Doncic.
That up the Finals showdown that ended with a long-range bomb.