NEW ORLEANS (AP) -From long distance, nobody's close to Jason Kapono.
The NBA's best 3-point shooter this season, Toronto's forward with the silky touch won his second straight 3-point Shootout on All-Star Saturday, tying a 22-year-old record with a final round of 25.
Kapono missed his first two shots in the last round before dropping 10 straight. By the time he approached the last rack of balls, Kapono had already clinched the win and didn't have to fire up another shot.
But he knocked down a few more anyway, matching three-time winner Craig Hodges' mark of 25 set in 1986. When his final shot swished through, Kapono, who made all five money balls - worth two points apiece - and went 20-for-25 in the last round, slapped high-fives with other All-Stars and hugged Raptors teammate Chris Bosh.
three points ahead of Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, who replaced injured Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Kapono almost didn't get out of the first round. He was in danger of elimination as he approached the last rack but came through in the clutch by sinking five straight shots to advance.
In the Skills Challenge, Utah's Deron Williams was flawless and fast.
With a nearly perfect run through an obstacle course of dribbling, passing and shooting, the Jazz point guard defeated New Orleans playmaker Chris Paul in the final round.
Williams blazed up, down and around the floor of the New Orleans Arena in 25.5 seconds, a new record for the six-year-old event. Cheered on by his home crowd, Paul, who completed the circuit in 29.9 seconds in the first round, finished in 31.2 seconds for second place.
Williams and Paul are regarded as the next generation of elite point guard, and they knocked off one of the best ever - Jason Kidd - as the All-Star weekend tipped off with a festive night of fun.
``It's a rivalry,'' Williams said of his personal matchup with Paul. ``We like to go against each other.''
Kidd couldn't get his shot from the top of the key to fall and finished third in 39.7 seconds. At least he was better than Miami's Dwyane Wade, last year's winner, who had just about everything go wrong during his run.
In the night's first event, San Antonio's Becky Hammon, David Robinson and Tim Duncan won the Shooting Stars competition. It featured three-person teams consisting of an NBA player, a WNBA player and a former NBA great from the same city. Contestants had to make six shots with the final one a heave from mid-court.
The evening concluded with a slam dunk contest that promised to be one of the most interesting in years.
Orlando center Dwight Howard, who didn't make it out of the first round in last year's contest despite making a dunk after slapping a sticker bearing his face on the backboard's glass - 12 feet, 6 inches above the floor - was aiming to become the tallest contestant to win the event.
The 6-foot-11 center promised some surprises, including props. Boston's Gerald Green, the defending champion, Toronto's Jamario Moon and Memphis' Rudy Gay were also in the field.
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