This year's contest featured eight contestants instead of six. There were four from each conference, and in the first round the highest scoring shooter from each Conference advanced to the final round. Competing in this year's contest:
Arron Afflalo, Orlando
Bradley Beal, Washington
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn
Marco Belinelli, San Antonio
Stephen Curry, Golden State
Damian Lillard, Portland
Kevin Love, Minnesota
Another change to the format is with the "money" balls, these are worth two points - and are the red, white, and blue balls that were at the end of each rack in previous year's. This year there was an added rack of all money-balls, and the contestants could choose which spot to place it in.
In the first round Marco knocked down 19 to take the lead over Love and Lillard, who had 16 and 18 respectively. He did this despite air-balling two shots on his first rack. Heavy favorite, and Golden State's Golden God, Stephen Curry was warming up on the second to last rack where he hit everything but the money-ball. On the last rack, which was his all money-ball rack, Steph only knocked down one to finish with 16.
Bradley Beal came out on top for the East with a first round score of 21, besting Aaron Afflalo (15), and Kyrie Irving (17), and Joe Johnson, who was so slow that he didn't get to shoot his last four balls and finished with 11.
In the interview before the final Nick Cannon asked Marco what his strategy was.
I love everything about this response. Especially his facial expression after he says "I'm just going to try to do my best." Because what else would you do. I could have done without Nick Cannon and his shoes.
Marco was up first in the finals and missed seven of his first ten. It didn't seem like he was going to get it together after putting up just eight points on his first three racks. He knocked down seven of his last 10, including four money-balls to finish with another 19.
Bradley Beal then got off to a slow start of his own with just 10 points through his first three racks, which included his all money-ball rack. it was looking good for Marco when Beal had 11 points and would have to be perfect on his next six shots, which of course, he was. Hey, this three-point contest actually got exciting.
The two shooters squared off in a tie-breaker, which was in the same format as the earlier rounds. Marco was fully warmed up at this point and just caught fire. He hit 18 of his 25 attempts and six of his nine money-balls for a score of 24. That's a heck of a score in a tiebreak. It's hard work to shoot that many threes in a minute, and Beal was visibly winded after just the second round. Beal gave it a go, but it was over before he even got to the final rack, and he finished with 18.
Marco became the first Spur ever to win a three-point contest, though Matty B did make it to the finals last year before Kyrie Irving exploded in the deciding round.
Kenny Smith predicted a Marco victory pre-shootout, and was made fun of by Reggie Miller for his pick. Who's the fool now Reggie?
Congratulations Marco! Spicy Meatballs!