11:09 p.m.: Shockingly, America has sided with Blake Griffin. And maybe, just maybe, he’s earned it.
Blake Superior follows through on all the hype, jumping over a Kia and receiving an alley-oop pass from teammate Baron Davis.
Slam. Contest over.
With all due respect to JaVale McGee, Griffin’s your champion, hands down. He had the pressure on him all week, and he didn’t shy away. This kid is for real.
Griffin joins James Jones, Stephen Curry and the Atlanta Shooting Stars team as tonight’s champions.
And just think — this was only the opening act. The real main event is Sunday night, when the Eastern Conference All-Stars take on the West’s best in the All-Star Game.
So long, everyone. See you in less than 24 hours.
10:48 p.m.: America gets the final it deserves: JaVale McGee versus Blake Griffin.
McGee finishes a ridiculous three-ball dunk, flushing them all with style. Griffin makes a powerful 360 off a rebound from a Baron Davis miss.
Now is it time for the car? Was Blake saving it for the final all around?
10:30 p.m.: Not a bad opening round. Not bad at all.
JaVale McGee is the star of the night, dunking on two baskets at once, one with each hand. That’s a perfect 50, and well deserved.
Serge Ibaka does a legit free-throw line jump, surpassing even the great Julius Erving. It’s a travesty he’s only in third place.
DeMar DeRozan — solid windmill slam. Very impressive.
And then there’s Griffin.
The Clippers’ star makes a ridiculous 360, tucking the ball behind his head and rotating for the slam. An incredible dunk, good for a 49 and second place behind McGee.
10:10 p.m.: Something amazing is about to happen. You can just feel it.
Blake Griffin is ready for the main event. And whatever he has in store for us, it is going to unforgettable.
Rumor has it he’s jumping over a car. Whether you believe it or not, it’s quite an idea.
DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and JaVale McGee are also competing tonight, in case anyone cares.
9:57 p.m.: If this is the Celtics’ Christmas, then James Jones is the grinch who stole it. The Miami Heat role player comes through in the finals, knocking down 20 to dispatch with both C’s stars.
That marks the first time this season the Celtics have beaten the Heat at anything.
9:49 p.m.: You want drama? You got it. Paul Pierce survives to the final round by knocking down his final three shots, including the moneyball at the buzzer. He edges out Dorell Wright, 12-11, and he’s going on to a final round that’ll feature a healthy dose of Celtic green.
It’ll be Allen, Pierce and James Jones for the win. Celtics versus Heat. We all know how that matchup has gone this season.
9:40 p.m.: Ray Allen does not disappoint. The Celtics’ record-holding shooter drains 20 in the opening round, taking an early lead over the mediocre James Jones and the downright disappointing Daniel Gibson.
Durant, Wright and Pierce are coming up.
9:32 p.m.: Fantastic point by Paul Pierce — why boo only him and not Ray Allen too? Where’s the consistency, Los Angeles?
Boston may be hateful, but at least they can dole it out to everyone equally. Every Laker, every Yankee, every Jet gets to hear an earful in the Hub.
9:24 p.m.: Instead of a national anthem, we get Cee Lo belting out “Forget You.” OK, whatever works.
Time for the moment every Celtics fan has been waiting for — Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and four other random guys are shooting next.
9:17 p.m.: Hats off to Stephen Curry, who just owned Russell Westbrook in the final to cruise to Skills Challenge glory.
Now it’s time to get to the good stuff. The 3-point shootout is next — get ready to see Celtic teammates Paul Pierce and Ray Allen go head to head for all the marbles.
9:10 p.m.: We’ve got our two finalists for the skills competition — it’ll be Stephen Curry against Russell Westbrook. Not a bad duo.
A few observations:
-Curry looked like the best passer of the five — composed, smooth, perfectly accurate. He’s got the perfect skill set to win this thing.
-The best part of Westbrook’s performance: the fact that his teammate, Kevin Durant, was there on the sidelines waving a towel and cheering him on. Gotta love the love between the two Thunder stars.
John Wall’s passes are like bullets. Calm down, man.
Derrick Rose did OK on the obstacle course, but no one noticed. Everyone in the building was staring at those disgusting mustard-yellow shoes.
Just an embarrassing performance from Chris Paul. Sorry, no getting away from that. First he missed the opening layup, then he couldn’t hit the jump shot, then he forgot where his next station was after finally making the jumper. Awful. It’s almost like these guys don’t prepare for this contest!
8:59 p.m.: Quite the stacked field for this year’s skills challenge — Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul.
Who’s the best player in that group? You can’t go wrong picking any of the five. I’ll take Paul, though.
Who’s the best in five years, though? That’s an even tougher question. Maybe Rose?
Who’s the best tonight? We’re about to find out.
8:52 p.m.: Dirk Nowitzki may be the greatest player in Mavericks history, but he just tarnished his legacy forever. Dirk and the Texans choke in the final round of Shooting Stars, opening the door for Atlanta to win with a subpar time of 1:10.
MVP honors go to Al Horford, who made both of the halfcourt shots the propel his squad to victory.
8:45 p.m.: Forget the dunk contest, forget the game. Kenny Smith just stole the show.
OK, not really. But the Jet did just knock down his first attempt on the halfcourt shot, clocking Texas in with a time of 31.8 seconds.
Someone get Elias on the horn, because that might be a record.
Texas versus Atlanta in the finals. Who ya got?
8:39 p.m.: Atlanta’s got the early lead, as Al Horford knocks down the longball to clock his team in at 47.6 seconds. Chicago pales in comparison.
The key to the Shooting Stars is hitting the final shot from long distance. The rest of them are gimmes — your timing for the first five shots doesn’t really matter.
8:34 p.m.: Don’t mess with Texas. The Lone Star State is the clear favorite to win the Shooting Stars title again in 2011. They’ve got Dirk Nowitzki, who’s one of the game’s best pure shooters, and Kenny Smith, who’s a past legend. Don’t you dare sleep on them.
8:27 p.m.: Kevin McHale and Charles Barkley have one thing in common — the courage to actually make a prediction. Rather than toss around this “tie” garbage when asked to pick a 3-point shootout winner, they give a name.
And a good name, too. Ray Allen has to be the favorite, right? That guy can knock down the 3 in his sleep.
With all due respect to Paul Pierce, the smart money’s on him to finish second.
8:17 p.m.: Does anyone else think that Shaq in 10 years will be Charles Barkley? Big personality, big opinions, just perfect for TV.
Bold prediction: Shaq will be at the 2021 All-Star weekend, calling the action for TNT. He might even make outlandish predictions like Charles did — JaVale McGee wins the dunk contest? Really?
As a side note, props to Kevin McHale for drafting an entire All-Star fantasy team made up of all Celtics. (Although including Shaq is kind of cheating. The guy’s only played 36 games in green.)
8:03 p.m.: Random observation No. 1: Why in the world is Kenny Smith coaching Blake Griffin for the dunk contest? What qualifies him to do that? That’s like Rob Schneider teaching Sean Penn to act.
If you’re gonna get a short has-been to coach you, Blake, go with Spud Webb. At least he can actually throw down.
Maybe Kenny should stick to coaching the 3-point shootout. You think Dorell Wright needs some guidance?
7 p.m.: Who’s ready for some star-studded festivities?
The rookie-sophomore game kicked things off on Friday night, with the younger crowd winning 148-140 behind dominant performances from Kentucky alums John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
Earlier Saturday, we had the D-League All-Star game. Some no-name scrubs beat up on some other no-name scrubs.
Now it’s time for the good stuff.
We’ve got the Shooting Stars competition, the skills contest, the 3-point shootout, and the dunk contest coming right up. It’s prime time now. Get the popcorn ready and prepare to be entertained.
12 p.m.: Which are you looking for more on Saturday night — the 3-point shootout, which will feature teammates-turned-rivals Ray Allen and Paul Pierce each duking it out in Celtic green? Or the dunk contest, where the Clippers’ Blake Griffin will hold his coming-out party with all the world watching?
It’s a tough call, but it’s one that no one has to make — just tune in for both.
Allen, who broke Reggie Miller’s all-time record for career 3-pointers a week ago, will take the floor at the Staples Center and once again put his long-distance shooting acumen on display. Pierce, the defending champion, will look to back up his 2010 title with another dazzling performance. Kevin Durant, the league’s leading scorer, will be a dangerous foe. James Jones, Dorell Wright and Daniel Gibson will all put up a fight as well.
For the typical Celtics fan, the 3-point contest will be can’t-miss drama, but for most of America, the real main event comes later in the night.
What will Blake Griffin have in store for us? That’s the kajillion-dollar question.
The L.A. Clippers’ rookie and YouTube sensation will take the stage at the end of the night. He’s the heavy, heavy favorite to win top honors in the dunk contest — but DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and JaVale McGee will all have something to say about that.
Come for the shooters; stay for the high-flying youngsters. Stick around for all of it, because it’ll all be great.