Players, coaches, and fans all packed the Reno Events Center Wednesday night as the NBA D-League Showcase hosted their 3-point and slam dunk contest. The customary cell phone video recording poses performed by a hyped crowd, helped set the scene for both contests.
The 3-point shootout kicked things off, and the field for the competition was impressive. Nick Convington (Erie BayHawks), Justin Dentmon (Austin Toros), Andy Rautins (Tulsa 66ers), and home crowd favorite Marcus Landry (Reno Bighorns), entered the contest providing the assumed gambling accustomed crowd with little more than a coin flip chance as to who would win the event. In the end, it was a head-to-head clash between the home crowd favorite Marcus Landry, and the seemingly effortless 3-ball specialist, and Syracuse alum, Andy Rautins.
Landry took the honors, and began his final run by first methodically situating the racks to his pleasure. Landry would end up scoring 16 total points as he donned his warm-up sweats for the occasion. Rautins' strategy to place the money ball rack (5 balls, each worth 2 points) at the top of the arc, paid off for the 66ers' guard. Coming off a perfect 5-for-5 second rack, Rautins' money ball attempts seemed like icing on the cake to a pace and effort that all but assured the crowd he would be victorious. Rautins' 23 points in the final round easily topped Landry's 16 point effort, and presented the downtown aficionado with the well-deserved hardware.
Following the 3-point festivities, the crowd was introduced to a lineup of judges for the slam dunk competition highlighted by Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins. Dawkins arrived to the Reno Events Center before the actual start of the slam dunk contest, and his infectious jovial presence was felt by everyone inside the arena throughout the course of the day.
The field for the dunk contest included Dominique Johnson (Canton Charge), Tony Mitchell (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), Dominique Sutton (Tulsa 66ers), and once again, another home crowd favorite Dar Tucker (Reno Bighorns). There were no Kia automobiles, nor any props utilized during the show, however, there were plenty of jaw-dropping jams for the crowd to feast on.
The night's best dunk went to Dar Tucker as he threw down a nasty, through-the-legs slam off of a high arching bounce pass to himself. It landed Tucker with a perfect 50 score to start the evening. Tucker's follow-up dunk was comparably an elementary bounce pass to himself into a full windmill jam. Between the two flushes, Tucker entered the finals with a combined 90 points.
Dominique Sutton used a speedy, but efficient approach in his first round attempts. Sutton received 41 points from the judges for his first attempt, and nicely executed, reverse knee-level single clutch dunk. Sutton then followed it up with a successful first attempt 360 two handed jam scoring 42 points. Sutton would greet Tucker in the finals with a combined 83 points.
It seemed as though it was Dar Tucker's night as he once again impressed the crowd with a 46-point, first attempt bounce to himself into a reverse windmill slam. However, Tucker would follow it up by barely squeaking in an unplanned one-handed jam while simultaneously slapping the glass in what could be assumed as a frustration dunk. Tucker's originally planned closeup, off-the-glass windmill attempt couldn't be converted much to the dismay of the crowd. Sutton would be crowned as the slam dunk champion by way of successfully completing each of his final dunks that were rather mild in taste.
After the competition, Tucker would reward the enthusiastic late night crowd with one of his best efforts on the season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 boards in a tightly contested win over the Erie BayHawks 94-90. Perhaps it was enough to erase the taste of defeat in the ever so popular slam dunk competition.