This year’s Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout ended in what you could call a bit of an upset. The names headlining the contest are ones very few could have reasonably predicted to have made it to the top. Heck, you may even have been called an idiot by Reggie Miller had you selected Marco Belinelli to win the contest. That’s why it came as such a surprise when San Antonio’s Spurs shooting guard won it for the Western Conference.
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As a matter of fact, the new format changes aimed at stoking the rivalry between the Eastern and Western Conferences weighed heavily into the proceedings. However, there were a few other modifications to make the shootout more interesting, in addition to some unexpected early exits from some notable marksmen.
The latest change in the format to the contest revolved around a knockout-style bout within each conference. The player with the highest score in their own respective conference would advance to the final round to face off against the top shooter on the opposing side. In this case, the top two proved to be Marco Belinelli representing the West going up against the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal representing the East.
Another fan-favourite changeup included the reappearance of money balls—balls worth double points toward the shooter’s score. However, this year’s iteration gave each player the option of positioning one entire rack of bonus balls at his choice of shooting station, rather than just having a single ball at the end of each rack.
Perhaps one of the underwhelming themes of this contest in particular was the fact that mainstream snipers such as Steph Curry or Kevin Love weren’t able to score at a high volume. Also, Joe Johnson’s lackadaisical shooting was basically a summary of his overall play thus far in the season. By the end of the opening rounds, Belinelli had amassed a score of 19, while Beal had 21 on his end.
The final round is where things got interesting. Belinelli stepped up to the plate first and finished with 19 once again. Beal got off to a very slow start and seemed in danger of losing, but that was only until he proceeded to his final two racks. In the end, Beal was able to tie it up with 19 points of his own, adding some dramatic flair.
Belinelli finished strong and put it way out of reach after earning a final score of 24, taking this year’s three-point crown.