Kyrie Irving looked to reclaim his throne tonight in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout tonight, and came up just short, finishing second.
Kyrie won the shootout in 2013, and after dropping last year to Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs, he looked to reclaim his title against a field that included Belinelli, J.J. Redick, Stephen Curry, and James Harden. Given that he's shooting 41.4 percent on three-pointers this season, a career-high, he had pretty good odds going in.
Kyrie shot fourth in the first round, and he had a strong showing, taking pole position from Wes Matthews with a 23-point effort. He started hot, hitting 3/5 from the right corner (including the moneyball), and 4/5 from the right wing. After a swoon at the top of the key and from the left wing, he came back and was lethal with the moneyball rack, hitting 4/5 for a 10-point closing rack to make him all but guaranteed to go through to the finals.
After Curry equaled Kyrie's score with 23, and Klay Thompson topped that mark with a 24, those three advanced to the finals. Kyrie shot first, and disappointed with a 17. He started hot, hitting 4/5 on his first two racks, but missing the moneyball on his second rack seemed to undo him. He shot 0/5 from the top of the key, rebounded for 4/5 from the left wing, and then only hit 2/5 money balls. Steph Curry went supernova on his finals run, hitting 27, and that was that.
Now, the reasons for Kyrie's struggles on the top of the key rack are baffling. He hit only 3/10 shots on that rack, and given that he's been lethal from there (45.8 percent on the season), that's surprising. It can't be that he's not used to being wide open, because he gets some good looks off LeBron side-PNRs where he can take some of those top of the key shots unguarded. Was he just overcome by the moment? Not likely, seeing as it's Kyrie freaking Irving. Did he just choke? Did Klay Thompson deflate his middle rack of balls? I'm not pointing fingers, but it just seems......interesting......that Steph Curry and Klay both shot well from that spot in the final round.
Guess Kyrie will just have to settle for yet another All-Star Game MVP award tomorrow night.