Wayne Ellington got red-hot in the middle of Saturday night’s three-point contest at All-Star weekend.
In fact, nobody got hotter at any point during the contest than he did when he reeled off nine consecutive made threes between the third, fourth and final rack. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to even get him into the finals.
Ellington, who finished with 17 points in Round 1, saw his opportunity go by when Warriors All-Star guard Klay Thompson, the next-to-last contestant of the eight, buried his final shot — a money ball from the corner — to squeeze into the top three with 19 points.
“I started too slow,” said Ellington, who made only one of his first five shots and missed three of the five money balls he attempted. “I needed that last money ball at the end. That would have pushed me over. I needed to make it or I needed Klay to miss that.
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“We need to check the tape to make sure that [last shot by Thompson] was good. I don’t know if he got it off in time.”
Suns guard Devin Booker, who like Thompson scored 19 points in Round 1, took home the crown by beating Thompson, the 2016 champion, in the final 28-25. Clippers forward Tobias Harris, who scored 18 points in the first round, scored 17 in the final.
Ellington, 30, finished fourth and with a bit of regret. He badly wanted to win the contest in his first attempt.
Three of his Heat teammates were in the crowd to show him support: All-Star point guard Goran Dragic and veterans Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. But Ellington couldn’t deliver a win.
“It’s tough when you’re that third [place] guy,” he said. “Like I keep saying I wish I would have made that last money ball so I could’ve been sitting at the top looking down. But when you’re that third guy, you’re going to feel a little anxiety.”
Before Saturday, six former Heat players — Jon Sundvold, Glen Rice, Jason Kapono, Daequan Cook, James Jones and Mario Chalmers — had combined to make 10 appearances in the event. Rice (1995), Kapono (2007), Cook (2009) and Jones (2011) all went home with the trophy.
Only two other franchises have taken home four trophies from the three-point contest: Boston (Larry Bird won three) and Chicago (Craig Hodges won three). He could have put the Heat over the top with a win Saturday night.
Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal (15 points), Raptors All-Star guard Kyle Lowry (11), Rockets guard and defending three-point champion Eric Gordon (12), and Thunder All-Star forward Paul George (9) finished behind Ellington, who came into the contest with the fifth-most three-pointers made in the league this season.
Getting his first invite to the contest, he says, has only made him hungrier to come back and give it a shot next year. Ellington, though, may not do it in a Heat uniform. He’s a free agent after this season.
“I’ve got to get back, man, for sure, so I can redeem myself,” he said. “It feels good [to get an invite in the first place] after all the work I’ve been putting in, the dedication, commitment to my craft. It’s paying off for me, and I look forward to the next step.”
So what’s next?
“I’m going to go back home to Miami. That’s vacation there,” he said. “I’m going to relax a little bit, try and get my mind right and get ready for the next push.”