Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker overcame All-Star Weekend jitters to make a strong showing in the JBL 3-Point Shootout, finishing third on NBA All-Star Saturday.
Houston’s Eric Gordon dethroned Golden State splash brother Klay Thompson to take first place.
Walker was selected to go first in the shootout and racked up 19 points to set the bar in the first round.
Teammate Frank Kaminsky, sitting courtside on the baseline, may have helped to keep Walker focused.
“[Frank] told me I better make some shots. That’s it,” Walker said.
Kaminsky was in New Orleans for Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge, in which he scored a team-high 33 points for the USA.
Gordon’s score of 21 in a final-round tiebreaker defeated Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, the 2013 winner, who had 18. The pair each finished with a score of 20 in the final round, setting up the tiebreaker with 25 more shots.
“I wasn’t really concentrating on how many I made,” Gordon said. “It’s all about just knocking down the shot.”
Walker, who shot first in the championship round also, finished with 17 points.
“[My legs got tired] a little bit,” Walker told Hornets.com. “I was moving so fast. So much energy, so many great vibes in the building. I just had a blast man. … I was nervous, but I was moving super-fast.”
Thompson was stunningly eliminated in the first round, missing a final shot from the corner that could have put him through ahead of Walker.
Walker’s selection for the 3-point contest in his first All-Star Weekend is a tribute to his dramatic improvement as a 3-point shooter. Walker is eighth in the NBA in in 3-pointers made this season at 149 and ninth in attempts with 377.
Observer staff writer Mike Reader contributed to this report.
NBA All-Star Game
Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference
Sunday, 8 p.m. ET. TV: TNT
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans