LOS ANGELES — Well, Devin Booker didn’t quite get to 70 again in L.A. on Saturday night, but the Phoenix Suns dynamo still poured in more than enough points to earn the first JBL 3-Point Contest crown of his young career.
Booker avenged his third-place finish as a rookie in 2016 by knocking off Golden State Warriors All-Star and 2016 champion Klay Thompson in this year’s contest, scoring 28 points in the final round — an all-time competition record for a winner — to best Thompson’s 25.
The 3-Point Contest is a two-round, timed competition in which five shooting locations are positioned around the 3-point arc. Four racks contain four orange balls (each worth one point) and one multicolored “money” ball (worth two points). The fifth rack is a special “all money ball” rack, which each participant can place at any of the five shooting locations, and every ball on that rack is worth two points. Players have one minute to shoot as many of the 25 balls as they can; the three competitors with the highest scores in the first round advance to the championship round to shoot for the title and bragging rights.
Thompson, Booker and Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris advanced out of the opening group, with Thompson rallying on his final moneyball rack and draining his final shot to get to 19 points. That bumped Wayne Ellington of the Miami Heat (17 points) out of the top three in the Round 1 standings.
Things didn’t go so well for Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who fell just shy with 15 points …
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 18, 2018
… or for defending champion Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets, who came up with a disappointing 12 points to stifle his bid for a repeat …
… or for All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, who scuffled his way to 11 points and an early elimination …
… or for Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Paul George, who stumbled his way to being the only competitor to log a single-digit round, finishing with only nine points:
Harris started strong in the championship round before stumbling a bit down the stretch to finish with 17 points:
Booker quickly aced him out, catching fire on his fourth rack and filling it up en route to a competition-high 28-point round, setting up a daunting challenge for Thompson in the finale. Klay got hot late, too, knocking down multiple money balls on his last rack, but finished with 25 points, giving Booker the win and — in this specific context — earn bragging rights as the sport’s sharpest shooter.
How did Booker succeed this time after falling short in 2016? By relaxing:
Devin Booker on how he got ready for the 3-pt competition. "My preparation was none." DB said he spent too much time preparing as a rookie & finished 3rd. Changed it up, chilled out & won the whole thing.
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) February 18, 2018
Let that be a lesson to us all: don’t prepare at all, and you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams!
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