John Wall, East win dunk contest

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NEW ORLEANS -- John Wall soared over his mascot, and the East stomped on the West in the slam dunk contest.

Wall's sensational slam finished off a clean sweep for the Washington star, Paul George and Terrence Ross in the contest's new battle format, helping the Eastern Conference earn a 2-2 tie against the West on All-Star Saturday night.

Answering Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore's dunk in which he leaped over Shaquille O'Neal seated in a king's throne, Wall took the ball from Wizards mascot G-Man, who held it above his head, then brought it down between his legs and slammed down a reverse dunk. Wall's efforts earned him the slam dunker of the night honor, a title that involved a social media component.

Wall said a friend sent him a YouTube video of 27 dunks that had never been performed during the marquee event of NBA All-Star Saturday.

"There's some ideas out there. It's just the dunks are very hard to do," Wall said. "You've just got to trust yourself to go out there and try, and try to master it."

The first dunk Wall saw in the online video, he liked, and used it to eliminate McLemore.

"It seemed hard, but for me it came out to be easy, so it worked out in my favor," Wall said.

Judges Dominique Wilkins, Magic Johnson and Julius Erving all gave the victory to Wall in his matchup, after previously picking George over Harrison Barnes, and defending champion Ross over Damian Lillard.

The league tried to jazz up All-Star Saturday for its return to New Orleans, with a number of tweaks to the format. Players were given an entire rack of money balls worth 2 points in the 3-point contest, which they could place at any of the five spots on the floor.

The skills challenge became a team relay format, but the biggest change was in the dunk contest, which was broken into two parts. The first was the freestyle portion, where the teams had 90 seconds to execute as many dunks as they could, before the three one-on-one matchups in the battle format.

The East had already clinched that part by winning the first two, but Wall made it a resounding shutout.

McLemore came out wearing a king's robe and trailed by O'Neal, who unveiled a "Shaq-Lemore" jersey. He made it over O'Neal's throne on his second attempt, and O'Neal presented him with a crown.

But moments later, Wall was the real king.

"The slam dunk has returned," said Erving, one of the NBA's most famed dunkers.

Before that, the new format was confusing to fans and the West players themselves. The East had it all figured out, winning the first stage with a passing and dunking display straight out the Harlem Globetrotters, capped by a three-man dunk where Ross threw if off the backboard to Wall, who lobbed it off the overhead shot clock for George to race in and slam it down.

That was just a warm-up for the second round, when Ross, the event's defending champion, started things off by edging Lillard with an assist on his dunk from rapper Drake.

Lillard was the first person to compete in three All-Star Saturday events, adding that to Friday's Rising Stars Challenge and Sunday's game to give him the most ambitious itinerary ever.

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