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

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Mac McClung went back to school to win his second consecutive NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

He asked Shaquille O’Neal to squeeze into McClung’s old high school jersey, then grabbed the ball out of the big man’s hands and leapt clear over him to draw five perfect scores on his final attempt Saturday night.

McClung compiled 98.8 points on his last two dunks, while Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown finished with 97.8.

“Shaq was so cool to put that high school jersey on, man, it almost made me emotional that he would do that,” McClung said. “When he put it on, he said, ‘You better not miss it.’ I said, ‘OK, I won’t miss it.'”

Unlike some of his previous attempts, McClung made this dunk on his first try and was rewarded handsomely by the five judges.

As a result, the high-flying, 6-foot-2 guard who plays for Orlando’s G League affiliate, the Osceola Magic, became the sixth player with two or more Slam Dunk titles and the first to win in back-to-back seasons since Zach LaVine in 2015 and 2016.

Hey Mac, gonna go for an unprecedented third straight title next year?

“I don’t know. We’ll think about it,” said McClung, who led his team to the G League championship last year. “I’m not sure yet.”

The only player with three NBA Slam Dunk crowns is Nate Robinson, but those didn’t come in a row.

McClung jumped over two people on his first dunk in 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.

McClung needed an even higher score after four judges gave Brown a 49 and the other one awarded a 50 on his final dunk, a left-handed slam over one person with a Michael Jackson-style sequin glove covering his left hand.

McClung then picked O’Neal out of the crowd, asked him to stand in as the prop and delivered the dunk of the night.

“It was like, ‘OK, you’ve really got to bring something, and I think they want us to make our dunks on the first try, which I completely understand,” McClung said. “So I knew it was time to lock in for the finals.”

3-POINT CONTEST

Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard defended his NBA 3-point contest title by finishing with 26 points in the final round.

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.

Lillard beat out Trae Young of Atlanta and Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota, who both had 24 points in the last round.

“I think last year it was a lower score to win. Like, nobody really shot the ball great,” Lillard said. “This one, I felt like everybody shot at a pretty high clip in the first round, in the tiebreaking round and the final round. Everyone shot well, so this one was, I’d say, a little more fun.”

SKILLS CHALLENGE

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese 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.

It took Team All-Stars 58.8 seconds to make its first half-court shot. Haliburton needed just 38.3 seconds to win it.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA

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