Sunday, February 10, 2002

Stojakovic edges Person in 3-point shootout

Needs 24-second playoff for win

AP Sports Writer

        PHILADELPHIA — Peja Stojakovic can go home again.

        The Sacramento Kings forward, a native of Yugoslavia, beat Cleveland's Wesley Person in a 24-second playoff to win the 3-point shootout Saturday at All-Star weekend.

        Stojakovic finished second to Milwaukee's Ray Allen in last year's contest. He was 5-of-15 for a total of nine points in the playoff. Person made just three shots for a total of five points.

        “I feel much better than last year,” Stojakovic said. “They told me if you don't win, you can't come back to Yugoslavia. My parents are watching on TV. A lot of people were watching. That's why I wanted to come back.”

        Dallas' Steve Nash finished third with 18 points.

        Stojakovic, who has made 91 of 210 3-point attempts this season (43.3 percent), made 9 of 10, including his last five in the final round to edge Nash. But Person hit three of his last four to tie Stojakovic and force the playoff.

        Person, making his first appearance in the contest, made four of his first seven in the playoff, but missed his last four.

        “Obviously, you have to use a different strategy,” said Person, who made nine straight during the first round. “He got off to a good start and that made the difference. You knew the first rack is so important and going second really put the pressure on me.”

        Allen was eliminated after the first round. He missed six of his last eight attempts, including his final shot to finish with 14 points, one less than Nash's total in the first round.

        Each player had a minute to put up as many shots as he could from five spots behind the 3-point line. Each basket counted for a point, with every fifth ball — red-white-and-blue like in the old ABA — counting double.

        The same rules applied in the playoff except the players had 24 seconds.

        “I just looked at the clock and tried to find my rhythm,” said Stojakovic, who will make his first appearance in the All-Star game Sunday.

        Stojakovic is averaging 22.6 points for the Pacific Division-leading Kings.

        Boston's Paul Pierce and San Antonio's Steve Smith tied for last with eight points. Both went through a stretch where they missed nine in a row.

        Smith is shooting a league-best 51.8 percent from beyond the arc this season (85-for-164). Pierce, who has made 123 of 323 3-point attempts (38.1 percent) this season, is tied for third in the NBA in scoring at 26.1 points per game.

        Others eliminated from the eight-player field in the first round were Los Angeles Clippers guard Quentin Richardson (14 points) and Orlando forward Mike Miller (10).


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