Click here to Skip to main content
DeMar DeRozan will join Nate Robinson, Shannon Brown and Gerald Wallace on Saturday.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

DeRozan wins Dunk-In, saves some for Saturday night

By Steve Aschburner,
Posted Feb 12 2010 11:43PM

The tricky part wasn't winning, DeMar DeRozan said, a few moments after he did that Friday night in the NBA's first-ever Dunk-In preliminary round at All-Star weekend.

The tricky part was winning while holding something back for the real deal, the Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

DeRozan, a Toronto Raptors rookie swingman, beat Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon in a one-round, two-dunks-each, single-elimination competition decided by fan voting via text or online clicks. DeRozan received 61 percent of the votes in results tallied almost immediately after the halftime event in Friday's Rookie Challenge game.

"I got a lot more for tomorrow. A lot more energy,'' DeRozan said. "I just wanted to make sure I got past this. Try to not, y'know, not show too much.''

DeRozan, a wiry 6-foot-7, advanced to the dunk finals with two masterful if unspectacular attempts. On his first, he drove in from the right side, put the ball under his right leg, then jammed home a reverse with his left hand. On his second and last, he slashed in from way on the left side before cranking down a windmill slam.

In between, the powerfully built Gordon tried for something a little more dramatic but fell prey to repeated false starts. First he tried to bounce the ball for a catch-and-finish but one of his five set-ups went into the basket by itself and the other four were off target. Then the Clippers' second-year guard tried to bounce the ball off the glass and slam the carom, but it took two tries to complete that one.

After DeRozan's final dunk, Gordon brought Memphis guard O.J. Mayo, a teammate on the sophomore squad, for an assist. (Gordon was a participant in the Rookie Challenge, so having to perform during halftime might have been a little much.) Mayo had to scoop an alley-oop for Gordon a couple times before Gordon caught and threw one down.

The moral of this story: Don't miss. Recent protracted dunk ordeals involving Nate Robinson and Chris Andersen might have made fans and viewers appreciative of DeRozan's efficiency.

"Oh yeah, you can't miss, especially in a dunk contest,'' the Raptors player said. "You try something, you get all the aahs. But then you miss and you've got to try it again. You don't get as much oohs and aahs as you would have if you made it.''

Then there's the effort expended, Gordon said. "I was getting tired and when you keep on using your energy on each dunk, and you keep on missing, it takes a lot of energy out of you,'' he said. "Luckily I finally finished them.''

Of the misses and the votes they might have cost him, he said: "I wasn't consistent enough. If I would have finished them, then toss [the verdict] up on the air.''

DeRozan mounted a mini-campaign -- complete with a Web site ( -- to get invited to this weekend's proceedings. Now he'll be on center stage in Saturday's nightcap event. "I've got some stuff for tomorrow,'' he said, revealing only that Toronto teammate Sonny Weems will serve as his set-up man at some point. Seems that Weems won a dunk contest himself in college and has been offering some ideas.

"That's the whole reason he's going to help me,'' DeRozan said.

The rookie sees Robinson, the undersized-but-no-longer-underdog Slam Dunk champ in 2006 and 2009, as the favorite in the finals. "I've got to go with Nate. Nate is the defender,'' DeRozan said. "He's about 5-foot-nothin'. You know he's going to try to come with something special and something new. You can't count him out.''

For another 24 hours, you can't count out DeRozan either.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA for 25 years. You can e-mail him here.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

photoGame Time: Butler, Bulls Discussion
The Game Time crew discuss Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls.
photoJanuary 25th: Daily Zap
The Hawks and Warriors keep their winning streaks alive and the rest of Sunday's action around the league wrapped up in the Daily Zap.
photoJanuary 25th: Top 10
Check out the 10 best dunks, dishes and defensive stops in Sunday's 11-game night in the Association.
photoGameTime: Thunder - Cavaliers
Jerry Stackhouse and Brent Barry discuss what the Thunder and Cavaliers need to do to get to the postseason.
photoGame Time: At The Buzzer
The Game Time crew on Hassan Whiteside's big game and relive Manute Bol's impressive game versus Atlanta in '86.

Copyright © NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use. | Ad Choices Ad Choices is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.