CHARLOTTE — Two days, two wins at 2019 All-Star Weekend for Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. Tatum won the Skills Challenge on Saturday night with a game-winning shot two strides over halfcourt, taking down Hawks rookie point guard Trae Young in the finals.
“Trae was already ahead of me,” Tatum said. “I just tried to have fun. Threw one up, and it went in.”
On Friday night, Tatum scored 30 points and finished as runner-up in the MVP voting to the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma in the Rising Stars game. Both Tatum and Kuzma were part of the winning U.S. team that beat the World team.
The All-Star Skills Challenge consisted of an untimed obstacle course covering three lengths of the court. To start, players weave right, then left through five NBA logos — upright steel-frame versions standing about 5 feet. Once they hit the 3-point arc at the opposite end, they must fire a chest pass through a narrow cylinder, then pick up another basketball under the hoop before sprinting the distance of the court to make a layup or dunk.From there it’s a footrace to the opposite end of the court. The first player to make the top-of-the-key 3-pointer wins.
Players didn’t practice the course, and Tatum said the chest pass was the hardest part.
“That’s harder than it looks,” he said.Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic lost to Tatum in the semifinals, missing his 3-pointer as Tatum’s dropped from the left side of the key. Young sprinted ahead of Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic and banged in a winner off the glass before Doncic’s first attempt clanged off the rim.
Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic (Jokic), Memphis’ Mike Conley (Tatum), Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox (Young) and Kuzma (Doncic) were eliminated in the first round.
–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media