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Rookie Ross rules in Slam Dunk Contest

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Toronto Raptors rookie guard Terrence Ross might qualify as a novice on the All-Star Weekend stage, but that didn't prevent him from exercising wisdom as the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest reached its zenith Saturday night.

Needing something extra to help bolster his bid to dethrone defending champion and co-finalist Jeremy Evans, Ross paid tribute to the most prolific dunker in Toronto history and parlayed that bit of nostalgia into the Slam Dunk Contest title at Toyota Center.

For the first of his two final-round dunks, Ross donned the jersey of 2000 Slam Dunk Contest champion Vince Carter before taking a pass off the side of the backboard from Rockets rookie forward -- and former Portland (Ore.) Jefferson High School teammate -- Terrence Jones, executing a 360-degree turn and completing a vicious dunk that mimicked a dunk previously performed by Raptors guard and teammate DeMar DeRozan.

"I think it's paying homage to the guys who did this before me," Ross said. "DeMar has been here before. I tried to take his advice and honor him. It's a blessing to be here."

Evans, a third-year forward with Utah, proved to be a worthy adversary, using former Jazz center Mark Eaton as an aide in the first round before upping the ante with an unexpected prop that left the crowd buzzing.

After completing a left-handed windmill dunk over an easel cloaked with a black cloth, Evans removed the cloth to reveal a painting of him dunking during the 2012 contest. He then signed the painting and put the pressure squarely on Ross to deliver a dunk both stylish and unique.

Ross responded with his hat tip to Carter and DeRozan, and then capped his night by leaping over a ball boy for a between the legs, one-handed slam. Ross received 59 percent of the fan vote to end Evans' brief reign.

"I told him the day before that I was going to jump over him, but I never told him I was going to go through the legs," Ross said. "He was kind of nervous. When I first grabbed him, he said, 'You're not going to hit me, right?' I said, 'No, I'm not going to hit you.' So I had to calm his nerves."

Ross scored a perfect 50 on his first dunk of the contest, completing a behind-the-back reverse after missing five times. He played it safe with his second, a 360 spin after a bounce off the court, then persevered as Knicks forward James "Flight" White and Houston product Gerald Green of the Pacers stunned and sputtered.

Green scored a 50 on his first dunk, a similar routine as Ross' penultimate effort, but failed to complete a double dunk on his second attempt. White also failed to complete his second dunk, yielding a spot in the final to Ross. Once there, Ross captivated the crowd like a veteran.

"I feel blessed, but it's still overwhelming," Ross said. "I'm just trying to soak it all in."

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