New Orleans • Once again, Trey Burke came through in the clutch.
Compared to other moments in his young career, the Utah Jazz rookie couldn’t have felt much pressure, as he raced the clock in Saturday night’s Taco Bell Skills Challenge. But the point guard who hates to lose will no doubt enjoy a title he claimed by beating fellow rookies Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams by one-tenth of a second.
All-Star Saturday Night winners
Shooting Stars » Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins, Swin Cash
Skills » Trey Burke and Damian Lillard.
3-Point Contest » Marco Belinelli
Slam Dunk » Eastern Conference team featuring John Wall, Terrence Ross and Paul George
Fans’ Dunker of the Night » Washington’s John Wall
The victory, shared with teammate and now two-time defending champ Damian Lillard, capped off Burke’s All-Star Weekend.
"It makes me very hungry, very motivated and eager to work," Burke said Friday after competing in the Rising Stars Challenge, a game featuring the league’s best freshmen and sophomores, "not only for the the rest of the season but the offseason, so I can be back in this position next year."
On Friday, Burke was frustrated with his shooting struggles; he hit just three of 13 attempts in the game.
"I’m always disappointed when I don’t play good, but I understand it’s an All-Star game," he said. "I’ve been trying to find my shot in regular games. It looked like I was trying to find my shot tonight. I just got to keep playing, man. I’m not going to let it get to me. It’s an All-Star game, but at the same time … you can learn lessons even from games like this."
The rookie hoped for redemption in the Skills Challenge.
Burke and Lillard bested Phoenix’s Goran Dragic and Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson in the first round.
In the final round, Burke was the anchor.
"I started to hear the crowd," Burke said of the final stretch of the competition, "and you continue to glance up at the clock and see how much time you got."
After the ball rolled off Burke’s fingers and into the hoop, Burke looked up at the clock again and thought the two teams had tied.
Lillard told him otherwise. Their time of 45.2 seconds was just enough to beat the Eastern Conference team’s 45.3.
"Not too many people can say they were part of All-Star Weekend," Burke said. "Obviously I’ve got bigger goals. Someday I want to become an All-Star. Seeing Dame, as young as he is, become an All-Star, it motivates me."
• The Skills title was Lillard’s only of the night, despite competing in three of the night’s four events. Lillard was eliminated in the 3-point shooting contest by eventual winner Marco Belinelli and was knocked out of the Slam Dunk contest by Toronto’s Terrence Ross. The former Weber State guard will be the first player ever to participate in five All-Star Weekend events when he plays in Sunday night’s game. On Friday he logged 30 minutes in the Rising Stars Challenge.
• Jazz Hall of Famer Karl Malone also got a shot at a title Saturday. The legendary power forward teamed up with Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and WNBA star Skylar Diggins in the Shooting Stars competition. But Chris Bosh sunk a half-court shot to beat Malone and Team Durant in the finals.
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