LAS VEGAS, Feb. 17, 2007 -- OK. So, we had to invoke the Nate Robinson rule in the finals ... for Nate Robinson. And sure, the scores were a little low. But I'm leaving All-Star Saturday Night, and more specifically the Sprite Slam Dunk competition, satisfied.

This contest took me back to the days of Terence Stansbury and Darrell Griffith with the creativity and showmanship. It was entertaining throughout, and that's what counts.

The highlight of the first round was Gerald Green's windmill off of Paul Pierce's toss off the side of the backboard ... clearly the best dunk of the night. Where he caught the ball, how high he was, and how easily he threw it down ... sick. And props to Pierce for a perfect toss. Hitting it perfectly off the side of the backboard on one try is not easy.

On his second dunk, Pierce pulled out a cardboard cutout of Robinson for Green to jump over. That's entertainment right there. But when Robinson willfully took the place of the cutout, he showed us what the contest is all about ... putting on a good show for the fans. And the expression on his face as Green jumped over him was classic.

And it wasn't just Green and Pierce that brought something new to the contest. Dwight Howard slapping a sticker high up on the backboard while catching and throwing down a toss from Jameer Nelson was genius. And Tyrus Thomas reaching waaaay back for the toss as he jumped over Ben Gordon was flat out impressive.

As impressive as Howard's windmill from the dotted circle and Robinson's gravity-defying one-hander off the toss for his first dunk of the night were.

As I go over my notes, I'm realizing that we saw a lot of nice dunks tonight. I haven't even mentioned the over-the-table windmill from Green or the one that Robinson finally hit after two minutes of missed attempts. A 360 off the glass is damn good, no matter how many times you missed it before.

So, when we compile the highlights of the 23rd dunk contest, I think they'll stand up well ... right there with the other 22.

Jason's Scary Good

The Foot Locker Three Point Shootout went to Jason Kapono who looked solid in both rounds. His finals score of 24 was the highest of either round.

Kapono was unconscious in the Finals, at times draining shots with the net not moving. Kapono also took advantage of the money ball, draining all five for 10 of his 24 points in the Finals.

How did Kapono learn that form?

"(Shaquille O'Neal) is only a 46 percent free throw shooter, but he is a great three-point shooter. He told me to leave the hand up on the follow through," Kapono said. But watching Kapono launch his first rack of balls in Round 1, you wouldn't have know your eyes were on the eventual champion. Kapono was long, long, long.

But racks two, three and four were a different story, as Kapono was draining a downpour of treys. The Heat guard dropped 13 of 15 in the middle three racks, including both money balls and his score of 19 was enough to advance.

Finalist Gilbert Arenas showed off a new skill in the last rack of the competition. Arenas got to the far corner and started launching threes with one hand.

It might all be in the wrist, but Gilbert only managed to drain two with one hand... but the money ball rolled around and fell.

Arenas also finished with the highest score in Round 1. Agent Zero made it look easy tallying 23. On the last shot Arenas left his hand in the air as the money ball fell. Gil then looked at the crowd and gave a no problem shrug.

The third finalist was Dirk Nowitzki, who could only manage a nine in the Finals.

But the big shooter caught fire in the first round, finishing with 20. As his final shot fell the arena erupted into chant of "DI-RK, DI-RK." Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban stood and cheered.

-- Darren Misener

Mr. Perfect

Dwyane Wade defended his Playstation Skills Challenge title by executing a perfect final round. He connected on all three of his passes and drained his top-of-the-key jumper on his way the the best time of the night, 26.4 seconds, which is the third fastest time in the competition's history. Wade has just missed one pass in the first round.

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant had a perfect first round, but he got hung up with the first chest pass in the finals, clanking the first four before connecting on the fifth to move on.

In the first round, Chris Paul struggled with his passes, taking six attempts to complete the three. Meanwhile, LeBron James was nearly perfect, but he coasted too much, finishing 4.1 seconds behind Wade and 5.6 behind Bryant.

Follow the Rules

The Haier Shooting Stars competition went to Team Detroit because Ben Gordon of the Bulls shot out of turn in the final round and Candice Dupree never made here baseline jumper. Shooting out of order results in an automatic disqualification, so even though Chicago's time was faster (thanks to an early halfcourt shot from Scottie Pippen), the Detroit team of Chauncey Billups, Bill Laimbeer and Swin Cash was the automatic winner.

Of course, despite their victory, Team Detroit did not receive the warmest ovation from the fans. It has been 13 years since he retired and Laimbeer is still getting booed by the crowd.

"I'm going to try to figure out how we're in Vegas and getting booed," Cash said. "And I look to my left and it's all about Bill."

In the first round, team Los Angeles and Team San Antonio were eliminated largely because their legends couldn't hit from the top. Both Michael Cooper and George Gervin struggled from the three point line.