NBA’s best shine at Charlotte’s All-Star Weekend

Several players with N.C. ties competed in the weekend’s events in the Queen City

Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr., who played one year at NC State, heads to the hoop during the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest Saturday in Charlotte. (Chuck Burton / AP Photo)

Former Duke Blue Devil Jayson Tatum hit a half-court shot to come from behind in the NBA All-Star Skills Competition, part of the festivities held last weekend in Charlotte.

Celtics forward and former Duke star Jayson Tatum celebrates winning the NBA All-Star Skills contest Saturday in Charlotte. (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)

Tatum beat Memphis’ Mike Conley Jr. and Denver’s Nikola Jokic to reach the final, against Atlanta’s Trae Young. The head-to-head race requires players to hit a 3-pointer as their last skill. Young had a large lead over Tatum and was getting into position to take the three, when Tatum let fly from half-court. The shot went in, giving the Celtics’ rising star the trophy.

The Curry family, which has deep ties to the Charlotte area, put on a shooting exhibition. Father Dell, a former Hornet, shot a rack of balls in the Legends 3-point shootout before the actual competition, and Mother Sonya hit an underhanded half-court shot in the family shooting exhibition earlier in the week.

In the actual 3-point contest, former Duke player Seth Curry was eliminated in the first round after scoring 16 points. Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) and former Tar Heel Danny Green (23) also didn’t make the cut.

Older brother Steph Curry, a former Davidson star, hit his last 10 shots in the first round and opened the second round with nine in a row, advancing to the finals, where he lost to Joe Harris.

Hornets rookie forward Miles Bridges competes during the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest Saturday in Charlotte. (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)

Curry scored 17 in the actual All-Star game the next day, along with nine rebounds and seven assists. Walker, his teammate on the losing Team Giannis, had four points and eight assists.

Former Blue Devil Kyrie Irving had 13 points, nine boards and six assists for the victorious Team LeBron.

In the dunk contest, the one player without North Carolina ties — Hamidou Diallo — brought home the prize. Former Wake Forest Deac John Collins (82 points) and Hornet Miles Bridges (83) were eliminated after the first round.

Former NC State standout Dennis Smith Jr. advanced to the finals with 95 points, capping the round with a dunk over Raleigh rapper J. Cole. Smith produced a perfect 50 on one of his final-round dunks, after jumping over Dwyane Wade and dunking a feed from Steph Curry. He missed five attempts in his other dunk in the finals, however, earning just 35 points and leading to a three-point loss.

Rapper J. Cole, who grew up in Fayetteville, performs at halftime during NBA All-Star Game on Sunday in Charlotte. (Chuck Burton / AP Photo)