by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com
|Utah's Morris Almond takes aim in the H.O.R.S.E. competition.
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
Hot Shot Competition
The evening kicked off with the Hot-Shot competition, which involved four D-League All-Stars and a fan shooting from various spots on the court as they attempted to get the highest score. In the first round, Bakersfield’s Andre Barrett came out on top with a total of 24 while Dakota’s Carlos Powell checked in second with 23 points. Billy Thomas (20 points) and Randy Livingston (5 points) were eliminated after the first round.
In the second and final round, Powell and his teammate Will, a New Orleans resident, won the title with a total of 24, edging Barrett and company’s total of 21.
"It was great for me, but I think it was even better for Will", said Powell. "He was like man, I really want to be a judge in the dunk contest. He got his spirits down when he missed a layup, but I told him we were okay. This was my first time with Hot-Shot, but we just stuck to our strategy, which was free throws and layups. We just went out there and enjoyed ourselves."
The playground favorite H.O.R.S.E. returned with two pairs of All-Stars facing off as they matched shots in a five-minute time-limit. In the first round, Idaho center Lance Allred faced Fort Wayne’s Jeremy Richardson. Both players were tied at the time limit, but Allred managed to advance in sudden death when Richardson could not convert on his attempt. In the other first-round matchup, Utah Jazz assignee Morris Almond advanced over Sioux Fall's Kasib Powell, as he held an H-O advantage at the time limit. In the final, Allred earned the victory over Almond when he sank a bank-shot from just outside the elbow, leaving Almond facing an H-O deficit as time expired.
"I have been playing this game since I was a little kid," Allred said after his win. "My dad was not a fan of basketball, but that was something we could play together. So I've always loved the game of H.O.R.S.E. and it's great that they're bringing it back. I'm just sad that there was not an official H.O.R.S.E. game between Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. That would have been great."
Three-Point Shootout. Competition
Tulsa's Adam Harrington dominated this contest, posting the highest score of all four competitors in the first round, and then edging Kaniel Dickens in the final round to earn the victory. Dickens advanced to the final via a 30-second shootout with Josh Gross after two players tied for the second best total in the opening round. Harrington stressed that it can be difficult to adjust to shooting from a rack instead of a game situation, but his totals reflected his skill from long-range.
"It's hard to practice shooting from a rack, so you just have to get the most comfortable situtation and try to beat the clock," said Harrington. "I shot at a rack one time, but I figured could just come in and wing it, build some momentum, and keep it going. I've never been in one where you shoot off the rack, it was my first time. It's great to get the exposure here with all of the NBA people watching, and hopefully some of them are looking for a three-point shooter."
Slam Dunk Compeition
Four of the D-League's high flyers took part in the dunk contest, and the Idaho Stampede pair of Brent Petway and Mike Taylor emerged from the first round and headed to the finals. Petway emerged as the victor after he completed a spectacular through-the-legs dunk that brought down the house at Jam Session and earned a perfect 50 score. Taylor attempted to counter with a show-stopping dunk of his own, but failed to convert on his two alloted attempts. Fort Wayne's Eric Smith and Iowa's Doug Thomas also performed some impressive dunks, but did not record high enough scores from the judges to advance to the final round.
"First I have to give some thanks to the people on my internet when I blog, they gave me some great ideas," said "Air Georgia" after his victory. "I still have to wait until I get into the NBA Dunk Contest because I still have some more moves that I can pull out. As a matter of fact, I want to send out a challenge. Tomorrow night, us D-League dunkers should take on the NBA dunkers. I think that we can give them a run for their money. But we have a game Sunday in Iowa so I need to get out of here."