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Monday, September 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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NBA notes: Klay Thompson wins 3-point contest

Associated Press

It was going to take a sizzling performance for someone to take the shooting title away from Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson got hot at the perfect time.

Thompson, who has the ability heat up at any moment, made his last eight 3-pointers, including 5 of 5 on the money ball rack to beat his Golden State backcourt mate in the finals of Saturday night’s Three-Point Contest at the Air Canada Centre.

Thompson, the other half of the “Splash Brothers,” hit eight straight earlier in the round and finished with 27 points. Curry, last year’s champ, totaled 23 points.

Phoenix rookie Devin Booker scored 16 points in the final round to finish third. He won a tie-breaking shootout over the Clippers’ JJ Redick and Houston’s James Harden to reach the Finals.

LaVine tops dunk contest

Aaron Gordon turned in a great performance in the 2016 All-Star dunk contest. But “great” wasn’t quite great enough to dethrone defending champion Zach LaVine.

Gordon pushed LaVine to two final-round tiebreakers, but LaVine scored a 50 to Gordon’s 47 on their final attempts. Gordon finished as the runner-up.

For his first dunk in the final round, Gordon grabbed the ball from Stuff, the Magic mascot, as Stuff rotated clockwise. Gordon then spun 360-degrees and unleashed a right-handed slam. For his second final-round dunk, Stuff held the ball over his head, and Gordon leaped over Stuff, switched the ball under his legs and slammed it. Gordon received 50 points on each dunk.

But LaVine scored 50 on his two final-round dunks, forcing a dunk-off.

For his tiebreaker dunk, Gordon called on teammate Elfrid Payton, who threw the ball off the side of the backboard. Gordon caught it, double-pumped and finished with a reverse slam. Gordon once again scored a perfect 50.

LaVine tied Gordon again, forcing one more tiebreaker. Gordon then went with a reverse double-clutch dunk – and he received a score of 47.

LaVine, a 6-foot-5 guard, wowed judges, fellow players and fans last year.

Before Saturday, only three people had won the dunk contest in back-to-back years: Michael Jordan (1987-88), Jason Richardson (2002-03) and Nate Robinson (2009-10).

Towns wins Skills Challenge

The big men are back at the NBA’s All-Star weekend. Karl-Anthony Towns showed that.

The Minnesota Timberwolves rookie center beat Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas to win the Skills Challenge, further validating the evolution of the big man from a plodding post player to a playmaking force.

In the first year that frontcourt players were allowed to compete against the guards in the event that puts a premium on ball-handling, passing and perimeter shooting, Towns beat Golden State’s Draymond Green and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins in the big men side of the bracket before edging Thomas in the finals.

“I’m glad I was able to help the bigs come out with this trophy,” said Towns, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft. “This is bigger than me. This is for all the bigs out there, with the game changing the way it is, to show that bigs can stand up with guards and skillwise.”

It’s been four years since the NBA decided to eliminate the center position on the All-Star ballot in response to the dearth of talent at the position and the evolution of the game from post-centric offenses to pace and space.

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