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NBA All-Star Saturday Preview and Open Thread

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James Jones is ready to represent the Heat tonight in the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest
James Jones is ready to represent the Heat tonight in the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest

There are some people out there who think that Saturday night of All-Star weekend is more entertaining then the actual game. I can see how you could think that because of all the different things going on and the skills that are on display. Tonight should be just as fun as any past All-Star Saturday, and hopefully we Heat fans will have a hometown victory to celebrate as well.

First off is the D-League All-Star game. For some reason I got mixed up and thought that this was yesterday, so my bad on that. The game is actually at 5pm this afternoon. Remember...Heat rookie Dexter Pittman was selected to play for the East Team but will have to sit out after having knee surgery earlier this week. He isn't expected to miss a lot of time, but will be out a couple weeks. Here are the rosters again:

NBA D-League All-Star East Team: Chris Johnson (Dakota Wizards), Ivan Johnson and Garrett Temple (Erie BayHawks), Walker Russell Jr. (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), Othyus Jeffers, Courtney Sims and Curtis Stinson (Iowa Energy), DeShawn Sims (Maine Red Claws), Patrick Ewing Jr. and Dexter Pittman (Sioux Falls Skyforce).

NBA D-League All-Star West Team: Marcus Cousin (Austin Toros), Trey Johnson (Bakersfield Jam), Shane Edwards (New Mexico Thunderbirds), Jeff Adrien and Mustafa Shakur (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), Joe Alexander and Sean Williams (Texas Legends), Larry Owens and Zabian Dowdell (Tulsa 66ers) and Orien Greene (Utah Flash).

Coverage for All-Star Saturday will begin at 8pm on TNT. Kicking off the night is the Haier Shooting Stars, which will start around 8:30pm. This contest features one current NBA player, one current WNBA player and one TNT on-air talent or legend on each team. The represent regions are Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Texas.

There are six numbered shooting locations of increasing difficulty on the court, with each team member having to make a shot from each location before they can move on to the next. Teams have up to two minutes to complete the entire shooting course and the team that makes all six shots in the least amount of time is declared the winner. In the case of a tie, a shoot-off will be used to determine the winner.

Next up is the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. This year was unique because fans were given the task of voting for the participants of the event. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder were selected by fans to compete against Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets.

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge features players competing in a two-round timed "obstacle course" consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations. All players must observe basic NBA ball-handling rules while completing the course. The two players with the fastest times from the first round advance to the finals and the player with the fastest time in the finals is deemed the winner.

Baron Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers, Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings, Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs were on the ballot but were not voted in.

The third event of the night is the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest. The participants in this one are Ray Allen and Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Daniel Gibson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dorell Wright of the Golden State Warriors and James Jones of the Miami Heat.

The players will compete in the two-round competition with the top three finishers from the first round advancing to the finals. Five shooting stations will be set up around the three-point line, with four Official Spalding NBA game balls worth one point each and one Spalding NBA All-Star 2011 commemorative red, white and blue "money ball" worth two points at each location.

Each player will have one minute to shoot as many balls as he can. In the final round, players will shoot in ascending order of first-round scores. The Heat is the only team to have 3 different players win the event. Glen Rice won it in 1995, Jason Kapono won in 2007 and Daequan Cook won in 2009.

The final event is probably the most popular and hyped one; the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Competing this year is Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin, the Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka, the Washington Wizards' JaVale McGee and the Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan.

Each of the four participants will be matched up with a dunk coach who will work with his respective player to create some of the electrifying dunks that will take place during the contest. Griffin will match up with TNT analyst and two-time Slam Dunk participant (1990, 1991) Kenny Smith; DeRozan will practice with NBA Legend Darryl Dawkins; McGee will work with NBA TV/TNT analyst and five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber; and Ibaka will prepare with Thunder teammate and 2009-10 NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant.