All-Star weekend has been a coup for the Timberwolves' young stars. After taking home the Rising Stars MVP trophy last night, guard Zach LaVine defended his 2015 Dunk Contest throne in spectacular fashion, while rookie big man Karl Anthony Towns began the night with a win in the Skills Challenge.
Towns takes home Skills Challenge trophy
While the Skills Challenge traditionally features shorter, more nimble guards, this year's event marked the first time that the league extended invites to taller players. Karl-Anthony Towns initially looked like an early out, having been matched up with the 48 and 4 Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green. Towns was able to beat Green with a well-timed three point shot, despite trailing through most of the stage, and advanced to the second round.
Round two pitted Towns against Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins, whom Towns beat handily, sinking his three point shot before Cousins was able to even able to cross half-court.
The final round of the Skills Challenge pitted the 7', 240 pound Towns against Isaiah Thomas, a 5'9" point guard from the Boston Celtics. The two raced through the length of the course virtually neck and neck, but Towns was able to emerge victorious with another well-timed three point shot. The win also makes Towns the tallest player to ever win the Skills Challenge, and by no small degree. The second closest in height, Dwayne Wade, who won the Challenge in 2006 and 2007, is 6'4".
Zach LaVine goes back-to-back
After making a name for himself with last year's Dunk Contest victory, LaVine emerged as the broadcast team's favorite for the evening. After stepping to the sidelines to get a handshake from Canadian hip-hop star Drake, LaVine threw down his first dunk of the evening, an alley-oop throw to himself, netting 5 perfect 10-point scores from the judges.
Round two saw LaVine bring out teammate Andre Miller to toss another alley-oop, which LaVine caught in mid-air while leaping from the free throw line in a nod to Michael Jordan's famous jam. LaVine would have recieved another perfect score had judge Shaquille O'Neil not penalized the young Timberwolf one point for a missed first attempt.
Round four featured another free throw line dunk, this time with a windmill motion attached, earning LaVine another 50.
LaVine became locked in an epic showdown with Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, extending the championship round to a four-dunk tiebreaker, which LaVine eventually won with this between-the-legs jam from, you guessed it, the free-throw line.
While accepting the trophy, LaVine showed a touch of class, honoring Gordon with a shout-out and handshake.
Later in the evening, LaVine made a touching tribute to Timberwolves' late head coach Flip Saunders on Instagram.
Tweet of the Night:
LaVine's teammates, Andrew Wiggins and Karl Towns, could barely contain themselves on the sidelines.