The Splash Brothers may have been the headliners, but it was an underdog who stole the show. Eric Gordon and Kyrie Irving needed an overtime session to settle the event, and Gordon earned his first NBA Three-Point Contest win with a 21-point performance in the extra frame.
The final round battle made up for earlier struggles, as the field put on a tremendously weak performance overall. Wes Matthews, who managed only 11 points just moments after TNT's Reggie Miller proclaimed him a dark horse candidate to win the whole thing, symbolized the downfall of the competition still to come. He was quickly followed by Kyle Lowry and CJ McCollum under-whelming in their go.
Klay Thompson, the defending champion and clear favorite, was the most shocking name to fall short of the cut after the first round. Thompson missed several consecutive shots on his money ball rack, shaking his head in disbelief after he was eliminated.
Twitter had a field day with the poor performances in the first round:
Gordon entered the event to a smattering of boos from the New Orleans crowd, who watched injuries force him in and out of the lineup the previous few years for the hometown Pelicans. This win coincides with a renaissance for Gordon with the Houston Rockets this season, and it must have been nice to shut down the critics in the crowd with the clutch win.
The coolest part of the event, however, may have taken place after the "official" event ended. Turner's Craig Sager was honored with a star-studded performance involving DJ Khaled, Anthony Anderson, James Harden, and more all coming out of the crowd to shoot threes in honor of the Sager Strong Foundation. The crew earned $130,000 in a minute at $10,000 a shot, producing a touching moment during the usually goofy festivities:
Steph Curry had a chance to bump it to $500,000 with a series of halfcourt shots, but he was unable to come up big in the clutch. Have no fear—Shaquille O'Neal boosted one of Sager's sons up for a layup, earning the half-million for the foundation.
What it lacked in a hot start, the contest made up for with a great ending.
Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.