In the new team format, the Eastern Conference, with captain Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, won the Sprite Slam Dunk contest with a clean sweep of the West Saturday night at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. John Wall of the Washington Wizards won Dunker of the Night honors.
"I thought everybody did a great job," said George. "Everybody was huge. Our dunkers really put on a show."
The three-man East team of George, Wall and defending dunk champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors jammed together for 90 seconds in the freestyle round. George punctuated the East performance, taking a pass off the shot clock for a one hand jam. The judges (Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and Dominique Wilkins) awarded the initial victory to the East. That gave George and his teammates the right to go first or second in the battle round head-to-head match ups. The East chose to go second in the best-of-five contest.
After Ross defeated Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers in the first battle, George took on Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors. George needed all three of his allotted attempts to pull off a between the legs 360 degree spin slam. The judges liked that better than Barnes' dunk.
"You know me, I like pressure," said George. "I had more up my sleeve. If it had to get to that point, I was going to bring it out. We swept them so I didn't have to bring out the lost files."
The East completed a 3-0 clean sweep of the west with John Wall's impressive first attempt leap over the Wizards mascot and jam back over his head.
"Somebody sent me a YouTube link on my Twitter that said 27 dunks that haven't been done in the NBA dunk contest," said Wall. "And the first one was that one, and it seemed hard, but for me it came out to be easy. So it worked in my favor tonight."
Wall won over Ben McLemore's leaping jam over a seated Shaquille O'Neal. Fans voted Wall as Dunker of the Night in on-line voting. George said Wall stole the show.
"Especially doing it on his first try," said George. "That's the way everybody was going for. He did it. He did an amazing dunk. He had the best dunk of the night."
"I thought that Paul should have won," said Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who enthusiastically watched the dunk contest from the front row. "But I'm happy for John Wall. He's a real good guy, some real good dunks. I liked the new format. But I wish they (George and Wall) could have gone one-on-one at the end."
Sunday, George makes his first All-Star start. Hibbert will come off the bench. Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel leads the Eastern Conference squad. The All-Star game tips off at 8:15 p.m. (TNT)