The 2023 NBA Three-Point Contest delivered the drama and skill that many fans were looking for on Saturday night.
Damian Lillard, Tyler Herro, Buddy Hield, Kevin Huerter, Julius Randle, Lauri Markkanen and Jayson Tatum were all looking to dethrone the reigning champion, Tyrese Haliburton, but it was more difficult than they may have expected. In the first round, the reigning champion hit four of five shots in an all-money-ball final rack to close out the round with 31 points. Following behind Haliburton, Damian Lillard poured in 26 points while Hield scored 23 points.
In the final round, the NBA introduced a new dynamic to the three-point contest. In addition to shooting 25 shots from around the three-point line, the final round featured the addition of the two “Starry” balls. Placed roughly 30 feet away from the basket, each shot is worth three points. The introduction of the two specialty shots played to Lillard’s advantage as he hit both en route to 26-25 victory against Haliburton.
Damian Lillard is no stranger to the three-point shot. Through 46 games this season, he has attempted a career-high 11.2 three-point shots per game and made a career-high 4.2 three-point shots per game. Improving upon his shooting from the first 29 games of last season, he is shooting 37.2% from beyond the arc and 58.4% from two-point range.
Sitting at 28-30, Lillard and the Trailblazers sit just 0.5 games back of the Thunder for the final spot in the play-in spot. Coming out of the break, Lillard and company have three matchups against the Rockets, Warriors and Pelicans.