NEW ORLEANS (AP) -Deron Williams was flawless and fast.
With a nearly perfect run through an obstacle course of dribbling, passing and shooting, Utah's point guard won the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday, defeating 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.
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.
io'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.
San Antonio completed their final round in 35.8 seconds to beat a Chicago team made up of Candice Dupree, Chris Duhon and B.J. Armstrong. Last year's winner, Detroit's Swin Cash, Chauncey Billups and Laimbeer were knocked out in the first round.
Team San Antonio got off to a shaky start in the first round as Robinson missed five straight bank shots from 10 feet, but made up for his misfires by sinking his first half-court attempt.
The Skills Challenge preceded the 3-point Shootout, which was followed by 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.
Howard is 6-foot-11 and he 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.
Toronto's Jason Kapono was set to defend his 3-point title against a field including Cleveland's Daniel Gibson, Detroit's Richard Hamilton, Phoenix's Steve Nash, New Orleans' Peja Stojakovic, a two-time winner, and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki. He replace Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who is nursing a torn pinkie ligament.
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