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Highlights: Mac McClung Wins Second Consecutive NBA Dunk Contest, Damian Lillard Dominates 3-Point Contest

INDIANAPOLIS — The names on the trophies didn’t change from year to year in either of the NBA’s main contests on All-Star Saturday Night.

Mac McClung, the G League journeyman who shocked the world with his dunk contest win in Salt Lake City last February, did it again in Indianapolis, beating Jaylen Brown by jumping over 7-foot-1 Shaquille O’Neal in the final round for a perfect 50 from the judges.

And in the 3-point contest earlier, Damian Lillard hit the last moneyball on his last rack to edge Trae Young for his second-consecutive win in the event.

McClung, 25, who has played a total of four NBA games in his career, won a contest that featured a second G Leaguer — Jacob Toppin, the brother of 2022 NBA dunk champion Obi Toppin. McClung, who also jumped over two people for a dunk, and dropped the ball while soaring to the rim before re-catching it and slamming it for another, put his high school jersey on Shaq’s massive frame, leaped over him and finished a reverse slam.

“Shaq was so cool to put my high school jersey on,” McClung said. “Man, that almost makes you emotional that he would do that. I told him, ‘Well, you put it on.’ And he said, ‘You better not miss a dunk.’ I was like, ‘All right, I won’t miss it.’”

The two current NBA players in the dunk contest didn’t fare so well. Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. was the first player eliminated, while Brown, an All-Star for the Boston Celtics, was booed after nearly every dunk in an apparent sign from fans that they felt his scores were too high for the dunks he executed, especially when compared to McClung.

Brown, the first All-Star to participate in the dunk contest in years, put “pressure” on McClung with his final dunk by putting a Mickey Mouse-sized glove on his left hand, then jumping and taking a ball off someone’s head with that gloved hand and dunking it.

“I think ultimately (in) this media era, some players are afraid to make it into a meme or anything like that,” Brown said. “Like I wanted to come out and have fun with it, and that’s what I did.”

McClung, who now plays for the Orlando Magic’s G League affiliate, is the first back-to-back dunk winner since Zach LaVine in 2015 and 2016. McClung, LaVine, Nate Robinson, Jason Richardson and Michael Jordan are the only players to win consecutive dunk contests.

“This is my story, and I’m embracing it,” McClung said.

Lillard is the first back-to-back 3-point champion since Jason Kapono in 2007 and 2008 and joined Kapono, Larry Bird, Craig Hodges, Mark Price, Jeff Hornacek and Peja Stojakovic as winners of the 3-point contest in consecutive years.

He edged Young and 2022 NBA 3-point winner Karl-Anthony Towns in the finals, also persevering through a four-way tiebreaker in which the three finalists and Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, had to shoot for 30 seconds (normal rounds are 70 seconds) to advance out of the first round.

Towns went first in the finals and scored a 22. Young beat him with 24, and Lillard was stuck on 24 on his final rack until that last shot.

“I knew, once I got to that three-point ball, the deep one, I could win it if I knock these down and just give myself an advantage going into my bonus rack right there before that last one,” Lillard said. “So I knew I had a good chance.

“When I got to the final rack, I didn’t know my exact score, but when I missed a couple, I heard the crowd just oohing and aahing. Once they kept doing it over and over, I knew I was still alive because I knew they would have stopped if it had been over for me. The next two balls, I missed again, and then I grabbed the next one and I knew I needed that to win.”

Sandwiched between the 3-point and dunk contests was the history shootaround between Stephen Curry and WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu, won by Curry. The annual All-Star Saturday took place on a brand new, forgiving, LED glass court developed by German company ASB GlassFloor, installed at Lucas Oil football stadium for All-Star Weekend. The floor changed colors, graphics and messages throughout the night.

The Pacers’ trio of Haliburton, Myles Turner and Bennedict Mathurin — MVP for the Rising Stars Game on Friday night — won the annual skills challenge, emerging victorious in individual rounds of an obstacle course, passing contest and shooting competition. Haliburton, who would later lose the tiebreaker to get into the final round of the 3-point competition, drained a half-court shot in a skills challenge tiebreaker to clinch it for the Indiana Pacers.

“It’s home cookin’, holding it down,” Turner said.


Kenny Smith’s Sabrina Ionescu comments spoiled an otherwise great 3-point contest moment

Required reading

(Photo: Stacy Revere / Getty Images)


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