This year’s NBA 3-point contest featured no Steph Curry or Klay Thompson.
However, Indiana’s Buddy Hield, the league’s leading 3-point shooter this season and the contest’s winner in 2020, and Portland’s long-range shooter Damian Lillard both took part and put on a show.
Lillard, wearing a jersey from Weber State, where he played college basketball in nearby Ogden, Utah, outshot Hield and Pacers teammate Tyrese Haliburton in his third attempt to win his first 3-point contest.
Lillard took part in the event in both 2020 and 2019.
“This was a goal of mine because as a shooter, you want to win any competition like this,” Lillard said. “I had done it two times before this, and I feel like I just didn’t take it serious enough. I just wanted to shoot my way to victory, and I wasn’t shooting the ball very disciplinedly. I was sluggish.
“I wanted to win at least once before I quit playing. That’s why I took this one more seriously, and it just so happened.”
Here’s a look at this year’s 3-point competition, which lacked 2022 champion Karl-Anthony Towns:
Damian Lillard won in what way?
Lillard scored 26 points in the first round and advanced to the championship game alongside Hield (23 points) and Haliburton (31 points).
Hield went first in the final round and scored 25 points, making seven of his final eight shots.
Lillard got off to a fast start, hitting 10 of his first 16 shots, but he also needed a strong finish. Lillard needed at least four three-pointers, including his two-point money shot, going into his final rack of basketballs. He made it exciting. He missed his first shot but then made four of his final four for 26 points, passing Hield.
“It got to the point where I was counting in my head because I didn’t even finish the rack the first round because I was trying to look and find my score,” Lillard explained. “This time, I started counting and got off track.
“So I was counting as I got down the stretch of those last two racks. I knew I had to make all of them, but I was confident I’d be able to tie him. I actually lost track. But I knew I had to make them all. Then I looked up and thought, ‘Oh, that’s 26.’
“It’s ironic that it came down to that, and I had to tighten up and come up big at the end. But that’s not unusual for me.”
Haliburton finished last, but it was an anticlimactic finish because he started off poorly, making only two of his first 11 shots and failing to pass Lillard.
“I had a great time,” Haliburton said. “Unfortunately, I choked in the final round, but such is life. I’ll return next year.”
Who exactly is Damian Lillard?
Lillard is one of the best scoring guards in the game. He is a seven-time All-Star, including this season, and his 31.4 point average ranks fourth in the NBA.
“My game isn’t built on being super athletic or anything,” Lillar explained. “I’m not the league’s fastest point guard. I’m playing a quick, crafty game. I’m intelligent. I have the ability to shoot the ball. I believe that being able to shoot the ball off the dribble, off the catch, off screens, or whatever, is a weapon that allows you to play for a longer period of time.”
Lillard, known for Dame Time, when he has a knack for making big shots at crucial times in the game, and Steph Curry began stretching the court with deep 3-pointers – sometimes taking shots from near the logo at halfcourt. This season, Lillard ranks fourth in 3-pointers made (191), second in 3-pointers made per game (4.2), and second in 3-point attempts per game (11.2).
He played for the Trail Blazers for 11 years.
Who else competed in the 3-point shootout?
Miami’s Tyler Herro, ranked 29th in 3-point attempts, missed his first seven attempts and struggled to catch up; New York’s Julius Randle, a late addition to the event, struggled, as did Sacramento’s Kevin Huerter; Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Utah’s Lauri Markkanen both had 20 points in the first round but it wasn’t enough. All five were eliminated and did not advance to the championship round.
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