CHICAGO – Considering that’s he used to a different event during this showcase and the fact that he’d never done it before, one could easily have cut the Bulls’ guard some slack.
Zach LaVine was in the three-point contest for the first time during All-Star Saturday Night at the United Center, which might have seemed a bit unusual because of his past success in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
A two-time winner of that event, the sixth-year player decided that he wanted to change it up as the game comes to his home arena in 2020 while also attempting to make some history. No one had ever gotten the long-distance shootout and slam dunk titles in a career – 11 had tried before – and LaVine wanted to pull it off.
Frankly, LaVine wasn’t bad, getting 23 points in his first-ever round in the event, but it wasn’t enough against some of the better outside shooters in the league. His total was three points short of the Wizards’ Davis Bertans total of 26 needed to advance to the next round.
Buddy Hield of the Kings would best Devin Booker of the Suns by one point in the final to take home his first Three-Point Contest title.
So how did LaVine take that defeat? Frankly, not well.
“Oh, you know, I’m pissed. I’m mad,” said LaVine when asked about his performance. “You guys know I want to go out there and put on a show on.”
He did in the corner racks, hitting 9-of-10 shots including four of the first five that he took from the corner. But he failed to hit either one of the “3-Ball” shots from the wing and in the rack with all money balls at the top of the key, LaVine was only able to hit 2-of-5 shots.
“I got off to a hot start, I missed the money balls like I said. I ended hot as well but it wasn’t enough,” said LaVine of his performance. “They (the finalists) did a good job, but they did their thing, they knocked down the money balls.”
While he didn’t come home with a win, LaVine did enjoy a loud reception from the home crowd when introduced and during the competition itself. The guard is the only member of the team to participate in an on-court activity during the weekend since no one was selected for Sunday’s All-Star Game. Wendell Carter Jr. was chosen for the Rising Stars’ game on Friday but couldn’t take part due to an ankle injury.
“It was cool. I took the reception in, but I was focused on getting it going,” said LaVine. “I think they know how competitive I am, but I really do appreciate it.”
Those roars would have been there for the dunk contest as well had LaVine chosen to go for his third victory in that event. Even though he fell short in his first Three-Point Contest, the guard wasn’t wondering “what if” when it comes to the other competition.
“I’m past the dunk contest, man,” said LaVine. “There’s not a lot more for me to prove”
When it comes to the long-distance shootout, however, it’s a different story.