NBA: John Wall soared over his Wizards mascot, and the East stomped on the West in the slam dunk contest in New Orleans Saturday night.
Wall’s sensational slam finished off a clean sweep over Paul George and Terrence Ross in the contest’s new battle format. The dunk helped the Eastern Conference earn a 2-2 tie against the West.
San Antonio’s Marco Belinelli won the 3-point contest, while Damian Lillard and Utah rookie Trey Burke won the skills challenge for the West’s two victories. For the East, Miami’s Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins and WNBA star Swin Cash won the shooting stars.
The league tried to jazz up All-Star Saturday for its return to New Orleans, with a number of tweaks to the format.
The biggest was in the dunk contest, which was broken into two parts. The first was the freestyle portion, where the teams had 90 seconds to execute as many dunks as they could, before the three 1-on-1 matchups in the battle format.
Syracuse steals win, remains undefeated
Men’s basketball: Rakeem Christmas had a key steal to set up C.J. Fair’s winning layup with 6.7 seconds left, helping No. 1 Syracuse edge visiting North Carolina State 56-55, to remain unbeaten.
Christmas had 14 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks as Syracuse (25-0, 12-0 ACC) earned its 10th single-digit win despite shooting 35.2 percent. Jerami Grant had 12 points and 14 rebounds and Fair scored 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
The start of the game was pushed back four hours because of a snowstorm that wreaked havoc along the eastern seaboard. N.C. State (16-9, 6-6) did not land in Syracuse until Saturday afternoon.
With ball possession and 18.3 seconds remaining in the game, the Wolfpack simply couldn’t close it out. After a timeout, Christmas stole the ball and Fair put the Orange in front when N.C. State was tragically whistled for goaltending on his layup attempt.
• Napier leads overtime charge for UConn: Shabazz Napier scored a career-high 34 points, adding a critical 3-pointer in overtime as 24th-ranked Connecticut outlasted No. 20 Memphis, 86-81, before 16,294 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
The Tigers (19-6, 8-4 American Athletic Conference) dominated the boards in the second half and burned UConn (20-5, 8-4) defenders for easy baskets throughout.
• Florida rallies past Kentucky: Scottie Wilbekin scored 23 points, including five critical free throws down the stretch, and No. 3 Florida (23-2, 12-0) rallied for a tense 69-59 victory over No. 14 Kentucky (19-6, 9-3) in a matchup of the Southeastern Conference’s top teams in Lexington, Ky.
The Gators tied a school record with their 17th straight win. It was their first victory at Rupp Arena since 2007.
• Evans’ double-double extends Billikins streak: Dwayne Evans had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 12 Saint Louis broke a late tie with seven straight points, beating VCU 64-62 for its 17th straight victory.
The Billikens (23-2, 10-0 Atlantic 10) blew a 12-point second-lead before finally putting away visiting VCU (20-6, 8-3) in a matchup of the Atlantic 10’s top two teams.
VCU cut the deficit to three before Rob Loe hit the second of two free throws for a four-point gap with 8 seconds left.
Golf: William McGirt made eight birdies through a stretch of 13 holes and wound up with a 6-under-par 65 in the Northern Trust Open in Pacific Palisades, Calif. for a two-shot lead going into the final round.
McGirt has never held a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. He had one close call when he finished runner-up at the Canadian Open two years ago.
He opened up a two-shot lead over George McNeill (66) and Charlie Beljan (68).
Jason Allred, who hasn’t played a PGA Tour event in more than three years, was three shots behind.
• Triplett ties lead: Former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett shot a 5-under 67 in windy conditions for a share of the second-round lead with defending champion Bernard Langer in the ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla.
Triplett matched Langer at 10-under 134 on TwinEagles’ Talon Course.
Triplett has two Champions Tour victories after winning three times on the PGA Tour.
• Stricker plans to return to match play: Steve Stricker says he will attend the Match Play Championship now that his brother has undergone a successful liver transplant.
Stricker was leaning toward not going to Arizona as his 50-year-old brother, Scott Stricker, was waiting on a transplant.
This will be Stricker’s first start of the year. The tournament starts Wednesday at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
McDonald dismisses bullying allegations
Miscellany: The agent for Andrew McDonald, a former Miami Dolphins lineman who is identified as Player A in the investigation of the racially charged bullying scandal, says his client is “disappointed his name has become associated with other players involved in this story.”
An NFL-ordered report released Friday said Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner took part in some of the taunting of Player A.
Tessler says McDonald “has the highest opinion” of Turner and “feels terrible about the way their relationship has been portrayed.”
• WNBA players and league come to agreement: The WNBA and the players union agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement and will complete the drafting of the full agreement over the next couple of weeks.
• Burroughs receives first senior-level international loss: U.S. Olympic wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs snapped his 69-match international winning streak when he fell to former Missouri star Nick Marable on criteria, 4-4, in 74-kilogram weight class of the Yasar Dogu International event in Istanbul, Turkey.
• Achilles could spell end for Mulder: The Los Angeles Angels say pitcher Mark Mulder has torn his left Achilles tendon, cutting short his comeback and possibly bringing an end to his long career.
Mulder will wait for the swelling to go down before surgery is scheduled. He then faces a six- to eight-month recovery, meaning his career could be over.
• Reynolds, cowboy champion dies at age 77: Benny Reynolds, the 1961 all-around cowboy champion and a member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, has died at age 77.
He was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s rookie of the year in 1958. He had won more than 360 buckles when he retired at age 71.