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Hornets' Paul wins improvised half-court shot contest

2/17/2008

NEW ORLEANS -- King James' reign as half-court shot champion of the world was a brief one.

Hometown favorite Chris Paul usurped LeBron James and Jason Kidd as the leaders in the friendly competition after the Western Conference All-Stars finished a brief practice on Saturday afternoon.

The Eastern and Western conference All-Star squads each selected a handful of players to attempt as many half-court shots as they could in one minute. A moderator at the makeshift arena in the city's convention center pronounced that whoever made the most would hold the Guinness World Records mark for that timeframe.

James took jump shots from half court, hitting three. Jason Kidd also made three, all on underhanded heaves. Other shooters for the East included Ray Allen, who made two, and Joe Johnson, Dwyane Wade and Chauncey Billups, who each made one.

Wade looked exhausted toward the end of his minute and fell flat on his stomach on his last attempt.

"You'd think if you had 60 seconds in practice to make half-court you'd say, 'I'll make about 10,'" Wade said. "Man, it was rough making that one. I was happy to make one. It's a big difference. You've got the crowd, every shot they're 'ooh, aah.'"

Added James: "It ain't the easiest thing to do."

About an hour later, when the West's practice wrapped up, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson and Paul shot from the center circle.

Nash and Stoudamire each made one, Iverson and Duncan came close but didn't make any. Then came Paul, who routinely throws up a handful of half-court shots after Hornets practices.

It showed. He made three in the first half minute to tie James and Kidd, then drained the last one a few seconds later for the record, delighting the partisan crowd.

Wayne's world

Dwyane Wade leaned over to console the crying child who had just lost in the shooting drill Wade was running.

"Some kids don't like to lose," Wade said.

The way his season has gone, it's a surprise Wade isn't the one in tears.

Less than two years after winning the NBA title, the Miami Heat arrived at the All-Star break with an NBA-worst 9-42 record. But Wade wasn't letting that ruin his spirits while in New Orleans.

"It's been a tough year," Wade said. "But this weekend is just to forget all that for now and just concentrate on the weekend and being an All-Star, really living up the moment and getting excited, because you're not guaranteed to be an All-Star every year. So I'm just blessed that with the season my team is having the fans believe in me enough to bring me down here as a starter."

Wade was on top of the NBA world when he came to All-Star weekend last year as the reigning NBA finals MVP. But he's struggled with injuries since, and the Heat's title defense ended with a first-round sweep against Chicago before this season's debacle.

"That's the way life is. That's the way it happens. There's always going to be ups, there's always going to be downs," Wade said. "I'm going to continue to be the person that I am and that's all I can do."

On Saturday, that meant conducting a clinic with a group of kids after Pepperidge Farm made a $15,000 donation to Wade's World, Wade's charity foundation that promotes education and healthy living to children. A dozen kids joined Wade on the Goldfish NBA Fit Zone at Jam Session, where he led them through some stretching exercises before the shooting competition.

Hometown heros

Hornets guard Chris Paul and New Orleans forward David West have taken leading roles in community service and stumping for their city during All-Star weekend, but West said he does not expect either Paul or himself to get a lot of minutes during Sunday night's game.

The problem is that the Western Conference coach is the Hornets' Byron Scott.

"He's going to try to give us as much rest as possible," West predicted. "We've got a tough stretch after this so I know that's on his mind. No way is he going to leave us out there for too long."

The Hornets resume league play on Wednesday night at home against the Dallas, then take on Houston, San Antonio, Washington, Phoenix and Utah during the following nine days.

Even if Scott does decide to limit the pair's minutes, don't be surprised to see them on the court together.

"He knows we're familiar to one another, but it really doesn't matter to me," West said. "It's just an opportunity to be out there and enjoying the experience."

Shorts story

Daniel Gibson's last appearance in a 3-point contest was a short one. Nearly brief.

Cleveland's second-year guard, who was scheduled to compete in Saturday's 3-point shootout as part of All-Star weekend, nearly lost his shorts while competing in a similar event four years ago at an All-American game in Oklahoma City.

Gibson broke the drawstring on his shorts, and after launching a shot, he had to quickly pull up his pants or face embarrassing exposure.

"On the second rack, my drawstring broke," Gibson said. "Every time I shot, my pants would literally go to my knees. At one point I thought about taking them off, but I think it was a PG-13 type of event."

On Friday, Gibson, whose emergence in last year's playoffs helped the Cavaliers earn their first visit to the finals, made 11 3-pointers to win MVP honors in the rookie-sophomore challenge.

He was scheduled to compete in the 3-point shootout against Toronto's Jason Kapono, the defending champion, Phoenix's Steve Nash, New Orleans' Peja Stojakovic, a two-time winner, Detroit's Richard Hamilton and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, who is replacing Kobe Bryant. The Lakers star withdrew because of a finger injury.

Gibson said he might take some extra precautions to avoid a problem like he had last time.

"I might tape my shorts up top," he said.

Paradise lost

Rasheed Wallace is an All-Star for the fourth time. He's not thrilled.

"I'd rather be a Bahamanian," he said after the East team practiced on Saturday.

Detroit's combustible forward didn't plan to spend the NBA's midseason mini-vacation in New Orleans, but he was recently named a replacement for Boston's Kevin Garnett, who is sidelined with an abdominal strain.

So Sheed, where were you supposed to be?

"The Bahamas, man, me and my wife," he said. "She had it all planned out for us. But as you can see I got sidetracked to this."

Wallace, whose volcanic temper on the floor has earned him more than his share of technical fouls, was asked for his reaction when he learned he wouldn't be getting any time away from basketball.

"Hot," he said. "But she was more hot than me. She wanted to do it as a little surprise, but hey, we had to come here. I thought she was going to beat me up."

Wallace missed Friday's required media availability because he, ahem, missed a flight. But is that really what happened?

"It was the real joint," he said. "I wouldn't have done that or I would have not come at all. That was strictly accidental."