D-Wade edges King James in skills competition

2/19/2006 - NBA

HOUSTON -- Dwyane Wade defied the notion that practice makes
perfect in the Skills Challenge during the NBA's All-Star weekend.

The Miami Heat star edged LeBron James and dethroned Steve Nash
on Saturday by deftly negotiating a basketball obstacle course --
without preparing for the competition at all.

"I decided to wing it," said Wade, who will play in his second
All-Star Game on Sunday. "That's the kind of player I am, just
come out and wing it, so it worked again."

With Miami teammate Shaquille O'Neal cheering him on, Wade
finished in 26.1 seconds, narrowly missing Nash's record 25.8
seconds from last year.

Wade was flawless in his winning trip, hitting three passing
targets and a top-of-the-key jumper, all on his first attempts.
O'Neal glanced at the clock and cheered after Wade sank the long
jumper in front of him.

"I hit that jump shot and I kind of knew from there that I was
going to be holding that trophy up," Wade said.

James ran through the course in 33.7 seconds, capping it with a
strong one-handed dunk. The Cleveland standout missed a round
target with three chest passes, though, and the mistakes cost him a
chance to beat Wade.

Nash was back this year to defend his title, but the Phoenix
guard missed five straight shots from the top of the key and
finished the course in 52.8 seconds.

"I can't explain that," Nash said. "I'm not disappointed. I'm
really just a little embarrassed."

New Orleans rookie Chris Paul struggled with an outlet pass
target and finished third in 42.6 seconds.

Earlier Saturday, Tony Parker, Steve Kerr and San Antonio Star
Kendra Wecker won the Shooting Stars competition in record time,
hitting six shots from various spots in 25.1 seconds.

There were four teams in the event, all comprised of a current
and former NBA player and one WNBA player.

The San Antonio team went 6-for-8 and Parker, the Spurs' guard
who will play in his first All-Star Game on Sunday, finished the
round by banking in a half-court shot on his first try.

"We couldn't make it in practice," Kerr said of the long-range
shot. "We missed probably 20 straight. I'm thinking, 'This is
trouble. We're not going to do very well.' And then he makes the
first one."
Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and WNBA career scoring leader Lisa
Leslie placed second. Bryant swished a half-court shot on his first
try, finishing the Los Angeles trio's round in 41.3 seconds.
Johnson needed five tries to sink a 3-pointer from the wing.

A Houston trio of Tracy McGrady, former Rocket Clyde Drexler and
former Houston Comet Sheryl Swoopes placed third.

Drexler sank a 3-pointer on his second try.

"The ability to shoot the ball is something you go to your
grave with," Drexler said. "Six to seven hours a day for 20-plus
years, you should never forget how to do it."

McGrady has shot poorly at the Toyota Center all season and did
it again on Saturday, missing three shots from the wing. The team
missed five attempts from half-court before McGrady swished one to
give the trio a time of 47.2 seconds.

McGrady said he was nervous performing in his hometown --
especially trying those half-court shots.

"You don't know if you're going to be out there taking 10 shots
at that, but luckily I only needed two chances," he said.

Shawn Marion, Dan Majerle and Phoenix Mercury star Kelly Miller
finished fourth, completing their round in 47.7 seconds.