Stephen Curry tops Sabrina Ionescu in 3-point shootout at All-Star weekend

INDIANAPOLIS — Stephen Curry was on a roll — and it was barely enough to beat Sabrina Ionescu.

And fittingly, he won by three.


The Golden State star and NBA’s all-time 3-point king beat Ionescu 29-26 in the Steph vs. Sabrina competition at All-Star Saturday night, the first such him-vs.-her event of its kind at the league’s weekend showcase.

“For us to deliver a show like that, it was perfect,” Curry said. “As much excitement as you can build in that short amount of time with two great shooters going at it. This is something we’ll remember for a long time.”

Ionescu won the WNBA’s 3-point shootout at its All-Star weekend last year with a record 37 points, smashing Curry’s NBA shootout mark of 31 points. From there, a challenge was thrown down and the plan was concocted for them to meet at All-Star weekend.

So they did, and it felt like the main event of the night.

“Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we do this,” Ionescu said.

Given how the fans — and really, everybody from both the NBA and WNBA — seemed to love it, it likely won’t be the last time, especially since Curry and Ionescu talked afterward about adding partners to the mix next year when All-Star weekend just happens to be in San Francisco, the area where he plays and she calls home.

Curry’s prize was a championship belt, with images of goats — as in, GOATs — on either side.

And he’s the shooting GOAT, without question. But Ionescu, the New York Liberty star, almost gave him more than he could handle.

Ionescu went first and made 18 of 27 shots — starting 7 for 7. Some of them were worth one point, some worth two, giving her a total of 26 points.

She shot from the NBA 3-point line, which is roughly 12 to 18 inches farther from the basket than the WNBA line, depending on the area of the floor. Ionescu used a WNBA ball, which is slightly smaller than the NBA ball Curry used.

Curry had to rally a bit at the end, making nine of his last 10 to finish off the win.

Combined, they shot 39 for 54 (72%) in a contest with unconventional elements like a lime-green glass floor in a football stadium with the world watching.

“This was so authentic for the both of us to be able to be here, finally not in a closed gym, shooting in front of everyone watching and understanding what it means for ourselves but also the bigger picture,” said Ionescu, who has beaten Curry in a H-O-R-S-E competition before without millions of people watching on television. “This is where I wanted to be. … It’s changed the landscape of how people view what we’re doing.”

There’s no rivalry between the two, even though Curry heckled Ionescu during her rehearsal shooting session on Friday. He was booing her as she shot.

“Trying to apply some pressure, for sure,” Curry said.

The reality is he’s been inspiring Ionescu for more than half her life. Ionescu’s family had season tickets to Warriors games. He gave her a high-five once when he was in the tunnel connecting the locker room and the court.

She had a photo of him as her screensaver.

Years later, when Ionescu was starring at Oregon, she was the one high-fiving Curry’s daughters — who love her. And on Saturday, Ionescu said the experience of just being part of something so unique on the All-Star stage taught her a key lesson.

“To just keep believing in myself,” she said. “You know, 10 years ago, I never would have thought this was possible. And so being able to be up here … it’s a blessing and an opportunity to even be in the same conversation as Steph and to be able to see how much he’s respected me as a player and a basketball player and a person to want to come out here and do this.”

The competition raised money for each of their foundations, and when it was over, Curry left with the belt — but they both left more than happy.

Mac McClung earns perfect score to take 2nd straight NBA Slam Dunk Contest title

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — G-League champion Mac McClung won his second straight Slam Dunk Contest by grabbing the ball out of Shaquille O’Neal’s hands and leaping over him to draw five perfect scores on his final attempt.

McClung finished with 98.8 points on his final two dunks, one point ahead of Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown.

McClung became the sixth player to win the contest twice and the first to do it in back-to-back seasons since Zach LaVine in 2015 and 2016. McClung needed a big score after Brown drew an average of 49.2 on his final dunk over another person with a sequin glove covering the left hand he used.

McClung jumped over two people in his first dunk of the final round. Brown paid tribute to the late Terrence Clark, a Massachusetts prep star who died in a car crash at age 19 in April 2021.

3-POINT CONTEST: Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard defended his NBA 3-point contest title by finishing with 26 points in the final round during All-Star Saturday night.

Lillard, who won with Portland last season, became the eighth player to win at least two 3-point crowns and the first since Jason Kapono in 2007 and 2008 to do it in consecutive years.

This one nearly ended without Lillard advancing to the final round. Four players — Lillard, Tre Young of Atlanta, Tyrese Haliburton of Indiana and Karl Anthony-Towns of Minnesota — finished in a tie for the three spots in the last round. Haliburton was eliminated in the tiebreaking round with 12 points.

Then in the final, Young and Towns each put up 24 points, giving Lillard a chance to win it with a late shooting flurry that gave him the title.

The final event of the night, the Slam Dunk Contest, was set to begin later.

SKILLS CHALLENGE: Haliburton, a two-time All-Star, made the tiebreaking half-court shot with 20.5 seconds left in a timed contest Saturday night to give Team Pacers the NBA’s Skills Challenge crown over Team All-Stars.

Haliburton, Myles Turner and Bennedict Mathurin teamed up to win the night’s first two competitions — the team relay and the passing competition — at Lucas Oil Stadium, just a short walk from their home arena. Team All-Stars’ win in the shooting contest tied the score at 200, forcing the tiebreaker.

It took Team All-Stars 58.8 seconds to make its first half-court shot. Haliburton needed just 38.3 seconds for a win that continued a big weekend for the Pacers, who are hosting their first All-Star weekend since 1985.

Mathurin was selected MVP of Friday night’s Rising Stars game after leading Team Jalen past Team Detlef, a game that pitted two former Pacers players as coaches — Jalen Rose and Detlef Schrempf.

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