HOUSTON, Feb. 18
-- New blood flowed at All-Star Saturday Night. The defending champs were stuck.
Fans at the Toyota Center saw the San Antonio Spurs/Silver Stars contingent breeze through the RadioShack Shooting Stars competition, Dwyane Wade nearly break the record in the PlayStation Skills Challenge, Dirk Nowitzki capture the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout and Nate Robinson edge Andre Iguodala in the first-ever Slam Dunk tie-breaker.
As for last year's winners, it's almost as if they were frozen by the unusually cold weather in Houston on Saturday, which dipped into the 30s.
In the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk slam dunk festivities, Josh Smith, the overwhelming favorite of fans in Houston this week, totaled 81 points in the first round, lowest of all the competitors. Nevertheless, the event promises to never be forgotten, with three 50s and the first-ever tie-breaker in Slam Dunk contest history.
The 5-9 Robinson, a point guard for the Knicks, and Iguodala, a swingman for the 76ers, each registered a 94 in the final round, forcing an extra session. The round featured back-to-back 50s, with Iguodala leading with a lob that he caught on the bounce, sent around his back and threw home. Robinson followed with his tangible tribute to 1986 Slam Dunk Champion Spud Webb.
The Knicks rookie took a page out of Smith's book from Denver in 2005, when the Hawks forward surprised the crowd by putting on a Dominique Wilkins jersey before a slam. This time it was Webb's uniform that came out of hiding, and Spud was the one wearing it. The 5-7 Webb got up from his courtside seat, stood under the basket and bounced the ball in front of him as Robinson made an approach. The former University of Washington guard hurdled Webb, caught the ball at and jammed it into the goal.
In the tiebreaker round, Iguodala and Robinson each received one registered score for the chance to edge each other out. Robinson took the trophy with a dunk that featured an especially creative lob. He leaped mid-air and switched the ball between his legs twice before throwing it off the backboard. He then made a quick approach to the basket, caught the ball at its apex, swung it and slammed it in. However, it took him a number of attempts to complete.
That didn't matter to Robinson, who was just glad to walk away with the trophy.
"It’s great, I can go down in history now, I'm hoping I can be a legend now like Spud one day," Robinson said. "The Spud dunk was just something Jamal Crawford thought of. It just played the part for me, and it worked out for the best."
The Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout saw Nowitzki achieve victory with a comfortable win in the final round of 18 points, two more than second-place finisher and late-replacement Gilbert Arenas. Raja Bell had to pull out of the event because of a family illness. Last year's champion, Knicks swingman Quentin Richardson and Detroit guard Chauncey Billups had a first round-low of 12 points and failed to advance.
In the PlayStation Skills Challenge, Wade nearly broke Steve Nash's 2005 record (25.8 seconds) with a time of 26.1 seconds in the final round. The Heat star made every one of his passes and shots on the first attempt of the final round. The Suns' Nash had less luck in Houston, posting the longest time of the first round of 52.8 seconds. Nash failed to hit his jumper at the top of the key, going through all five balls on the rack.
The RadioShack Shooting Stars did in fact provide a record time -- Tony Parker's halfcourt shot on the first attempt game San Antonio a time of 25.1 seconds. Phoenix, winners at 2005 All-Star Weekend, posted the longest time of the event at 47.7 seconds.