Wall, Belinelli win in NBA All-Star skills events
Eastern Conference All-Star John Wall of the Washington Wizards competes in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend, at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 15, 2014 - by Ronald Martinez
A day before Sunday's showdown between elite lineups from the Eastern and Western Conference in New Orleans, players competed in a relaxed atmosphere for bragging rights in skills competitions.
Wall won a social media vote of viewers to capture the Slam Dunk individual trophy with an epic reverse slam dunk after leaping over his team's mascot to grab the ball.
"That dunk had never been done before," Wall said. "A lot of people had been double pumping before but I saw the opportunity and I was able to do it."
A revamped Slam Dunk format featured knockout matches with scoring from judges Julius Erving, Magic Johnson and Dominique Wilkins -- all retired NBA legends.
Defending champion Terrence Ross of Toronto beat Portland's Damian Lillard and Indiana's Paul George downed Golden State's Harrison Barnes.
Then Wall beat Sacramento's Ben McLemore to give East players a sweep over their West rivals with a dunk that earned him overall best dunker honors.
McLemore leaped over a seated Shaquille O'Neal for his dunk, but Wall responded by leaping over a standing mascot and making a reverse slam.
"That dunk is one of the best I have seen in a long time," Wilkins said.
San Antonio Spurs guard Belinelli defeated Washington guard Bardley Beal in a tie-breaker final of the 3-Point Shootout.
Belinelli made seven of his final nine shots for 19 points in the final, then Beal sank his final six shots to equal him on 19 to force a replay tie-breaker.
Belinelli answered with 24 points, the best score in any round, by hitting eight of his last 10 shots from beyond the arc. Beal could only muster 18 points in response.
"(It was) just shooting the ball. I didn't think too much," Belinelli said. "I was a little bit nervous at the beginning. I was focused on my job and I was so happy to win."
- 'Throw it up and pray' -
The Shooting Stars event pitted retired legends with active NBA and Women's NBA players in three-person teams in making shots from various spots, the last from mid-court.
Miami's Chris Bosh, former Atlanta star Dominique Wilkins and WNBA star Swin Cash won the final in 31.4 seconds when Bosh sank a half-court shot, winning by 12.2 seconds over NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, retired Utah star Karl Malone and the WNBA's Skylar Diggins.
"Straight luck. Throw it up and pray," Bosh said of his half-court success secret.
The Skills Challenge, with the new format of a two-man obstacle course relay, went to 2013 winner Lillard and Utah rookie Trey Burke.
Rookies Victor Oladipo of Orlando and Michael Carter-Williams of Philadelphia set the time to beat of 45.3 seconds, but lost when Burke sank a layup to end his duo's run in 45.2.
"Getting off to a quick start. That was the key," said Lillard, a West All-Star who took part in every skills event.