Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown bow out of NBA 3-Point Contest as Stephen Curry takes crown

Tatum made it to the second round, but he went cold facing Curry and Mike Conley.

Jayson Tatum made the second round of Sunday's 3-point contest.
Jayson Tatum made the second round of Sunday's 3-point contest. –AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

To no one’s surprise, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry won the NBA’s 3-Point Contest on Sunday, defeating a crowd of competitors that included Celtics Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

What may have been a little surprising, however, was how close Curry — widely considered the greatest 3-point shooter in NBA history — came to losing. Curry’s run came down to his final shot — a money ball worth two points. Curry trailed Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley 27-26 as he fired up his final shot, but he calmly buried it, then pumped his fist.

“It kind of went blank,” Curry told TNT’s Allie La Force afterward when she asked where his mind was at. “I knew I could whatever crowd is in here, I could feel the temperature rise a little bit.”

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Curry set a high bar for his opposition in the first round by tallying 31.

Brown started strong in the opening round by making his first two attempts, but he struggled to keep rolling. He hit three of his money-ball attempts and a deep “Mountain Dew ball” 3-pointer worth three, but he finished with just 17 points and ran into the rack on one of his attempts. Brown was eliminated shortly afterward by Conley, who scored 28 in his first round.

Tatum found some more success — he scored 25 and advanced to the second round along with Curry and Conley. Afterward, a replay showed him muttering an obscenity after a miss.

“He wanted more,” one TNT announcer observed.

Tatum’s second round, however, was lackluster. After a cold start, he appeared to press and got colder, missing all of his money-ball attempts. Tatum finished the second round with 17, far behind Curry and Conley.

Prior to the contest, Tatum was asked if he practiced shooting off racks. For players who are used to having coaches and teammates to rebound and pass, shooting off a ball rack can be difficult (even Curry admitted players feel some pressure with the ball sitting right next to them).

“I got some practice,” Tatum said smiling. “I worked on it a couple of times and just kind of get the technique down. Like you said, it is a difference grabbing the balls off the rack. The balls are different, the money balls, so have to go practice for that. But it should be fun.

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“I’m a little disappointed there won’t be 25,000 people there, but at the same time, that might help. You might get a little nervous being the only one shooting, but since there’s only going to be 1,000 people there, it might make it a little easier actually.”

Brown was asked prior to the contest if he had a strategy.

‘The strategy is to win,” Brown said. “I’m extremely grateful to be here. I’m going to have some fun, that’s my strategy. My strategy is to put the ball in the basket as much as I can. Obviously, there’s little details that I paid attention to and I worked on but, for the most part, have fun and try to bring it home.”

Both Tatum and Brown were scheduled to take part in the All-Star game as well.

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