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Monday, Feb. 27, 2012
Jazz's Evans crowned dunk contest champ
ORLANDO, Florida — His nickname is the Human Pogo Stick and Utah's Jeremy Evans set out to put some bounce back into the Slam Dunk Contest.
Evans endeared himself to the fans with a mix of props and creativity, and they voted him the winner of one of the marquee events of the NBA's All-Star Saturday festivities.
Evans, who got into the competition as a replacement for injured New York guard Iman Shumpert, earned 29 percent of the 3 million votes cast. He beat out Houston's Chase Budinger, Indiana's Paul George and Minnesota's Derrick Williams.
In a departure from past dunk competitions, fans were given complete voting power and cast their ballots by text message after each of the four participants competed in three one-dunk rounds.
Evans dunked with a camera on his head, slammed two basketballs while jumping over a seated assistant and donned a Karl Malone jersey to dunk over mailman-dressed comedian Kevin Hart.
Evans said the Jazz didn't have any input in the Malone-themed idea.
"Not at all," he said. "I was just thanking the Jazz fans. You want to do something to get them in it. So I felt that was a good way. And Dwight Howard, he helped me big time. That was huge."
Budinger got just as many cheers from the Amway Center fans as Evans, and some in the celebrity-filled crowd sighed when the winner was announced.
Budinger got his biggest reaction when he donned a Cedric Ceballos jersey and imitated his 1992 blindfolded dunk, completing it with a reverse slam.
"I've very happy with my performance. I went out there, I had a plan and I executed the plan and the fans voted and I didn't win and that happens sometimes," Budinger said. "But I had great dunks and they're going to be great memories as well."
Kevin Love knows something about dunking. He does most of his dirty work inside for Minnesota, but he got to show off his outside touch on Saturday night.
Love beat out Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant to win the 3-Point Shootout. The former UCLA star was consistent throughout, but he had to survive a tiebreaker in the first round and sweat out the last few shots from Durant to pull out the 17-14 victory in the final.
Love is in the middle of a breakout year for Minnesota, averaging 25 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. But he also has connected on 49 of 141 3-point attempts for the Timberwolves.
"You know, I'm a guy that loves to rebound the ball, a guy that loves to play inside, really a physical player," Love said. "But for me, coming into the league, I was told not to shoot 3-point shots, so to be where I am now and continue to work on my game, I think this definitely speaks to my versatility. I think I'll just continue to improve year in and year out."
Celebrities lined the court for the appetizer before Sunday's NBA All-Star Game, and the first event saw the continuation of the good vibes that Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin has brought to the Big Apple recently
With Knicks super fan Spike Lee looking on, Team New York had the touch from the outside and won the Shooting Stars event. Former Knicks star Allan Houston nailed his third attempt at a half-court shot to give his team consisting of current Knicks guard Landry Fields and Cappie Pondexter of the WNBA's New York Liberty the victory.