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Hawk sensation's homage to Nique is chic

2/22/2005

DENVER -- Josh Smith went retro to win the NBA's dunk
contest.

Smith scored a 50 on his first dunk of the finals wearing the
jersey of former Atlanta star Dominique Wilkins, then had another
perfect score on his second dunk in his own Hawks jersey to beat
Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire on Saturday night.

"He didn't know I was going to do that, but I was going to do a
dunk symbolizing what he did in his previous years," said Smith,
Atlanta's first round pick in 2004 after making the jump from high
school. "He was real excited and shocked that I would do that."

Wilkins, a two-time dunk champion, handed the mantel and his
jersey over just before Smith's first dunk of the final round, and
the rookie didn't disappoint. Looking a whole lot like 'Nique --
other than being left-handed -- Smith leaned in for a windmill dunk
that left the backboard and rim shaking and earned him a perfect
score.

Smith switched back to his No. 5 Hawks jersey and earned another
50 off a reverse-spin 360 -- a la Vince Carter at the 2000 dunk contest in Oakland.

"I think the whole jersey thing kind of made everybody a little
nervous," said Wilkins, who won the dunk contest in 1985 and 1990.
"Like I said, he shocked me with that one. That was outstanding."

But it wasn't the only outstanding part.

Though former Nuggets player Chris Andersen drew some boos after
needing eight tries to finish his first dunk, Smith and Stoudemire
got the crowd going with their second dunks of the first round.

Smith started things off, earning a 50 by taking a pass from
Denver's Kenyon Martin, who was seated in a chair, and throwing it
down with a vicious windmill dunk after soaring over Martin.

Stoudemire did him one better on the next dunk, passing the ball
off the backboard to teammate Suns teammate Steve Nash, who headed
the ball back to Stoudemire for a one-handed 360 dunk.
"That was a good dunk by Amare and Steve, and I knew I had to
pull something out of my hat to get by and win," Smith said.
Smith did and it prevented the Suns from completing a sweep on
All-Star Saturday.

Phoenix's Quentin Richardson won the 3-point shooting contest,
making his final nine shots of the finals after opening with an
airball to edge Philadelphia's Kyle Korver by one point.
Richardson appeared to have no chance at catching Korver after
missing his first four shots, but he hit four of five money balls --
worth two points each -- and had the strong finish to close with 19
points.

"In the first round, I felt like I was shooting a little too
hard so the first shot [in the second round] I tried to shoot
softer and it got a little too soft," Richardson said. "Then I
got it going."

Denver's Voshon Lenard, who hasn't played this season since
tearing his Achilles tendon in the season opener, had the final
chance to pass Richardson but couldn't come through. The leader
after the first round with 17 points, Lenard needed to make all
five shots in the final rack, but missed the first one and finished
with 16 points.
Nash won the skills challenge, completing the final dribbling,
passing and shooting course nearly 12 seconds faster than Denver's
Earl Boykins.
Nash was the leader after the first round at 31.4 seconds, then
completed the course in 25.8 the second time around. His only
mistake in the final was missing his first chest pass, but he got
the second one and breezed through the rest of the skills after
Boykins needed four tries to hit a 3-pointer.
Shawn Marion, Diana Taurasi and Dan Majerle made it 3-for-3 for
Phoenix by winning the shooting stars competition, making shots
from six spots in just 28 seconds. Majerle capped the competition
by hitting his second shot from halfcourt to help Phoenix beat
Denver by 16 seconds.
"It's fun -- we even got Thunder Dan back in the equation,"
Nash said. "It's great for the organization."