LOS ANGELES – In the third year of guards vs. bigs in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the guards finally won. But it was a big guard that did it.
The Brooklyn Nets' 6-6 point guard Spencer Dinwiddie defeated the Chicago Bulls' Lauri Markkanen in the final round to take home the Skills Challenge trophy.
The Skills Challenge is about two things, the chest pass and the top-of-the-key 3-pointer. Connect on the chest pass and you're out to an early lead, but if you can't make the three, your opponent can come from behind. Dinwiddie connected on his first chest pass to get out to a big lead on Markkanen. He missed his first 3-point attempt, but still had plenty of time and sunk his second before Markkanen could make it to the line.
"That's one of the marks of my game, being able to affect the game in multiple ways, whether it be passing, defending or scoring," Dinwiddie said afterward. "Good thing they didn't have a rebounding challenge, I guess, in this or I wouldn't have won it."
In the semifinals, Dinwiddie eliminated the Nuggets' Jamal Murray, who had an early lead, but missed his first 3-point attempt. Dinwiddie was right behind him and sunk his first three to advance to the final. Markkanen eliminated the Sixers' Joel Embiid in what was an even matchup until the 3-point shot, which Markkanen made on his first attempt.
In the first round, Dinwiddie came from behind and sunk his first 3-pointer to beat the Kings' Buddy Hield, who missed his first two attempts. Murray took an early lead by connecting on his first chest pass and didn't give it up, making his third 3-point attempt before the Clippers' Lou Williams could attempt his first.
Embiid eliminated the Celtics' Al Horford, who had an early lead, but missed his first three 3-point attempts, while Markkanen eliminated the Pistons' Andre Drummond by completing his chest pass first and knocking down his first jumper.
The Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis was unable to defend his 2017 title, having torn his ACL earlier this month.
For a complete list of previous winners please click here.