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Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie captures Taco Bell Skills Challenge

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Winner: Spencer Dinwiddie (Nets)
Runner-Up: Lauri Markkanen (Bulls)
Watch:Highlights
More: NBA All-Star 2018 complete coverage

LOS ANGELES – In the third year of guards vs. bigs in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the guards finally won. But it was a big guard that did it.

The Brooklyn Nets’ 6-6 point guard Spencer Dinwiddie defeated the Chicago Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen in the final round to take home the Skills Challenge trophy.

The Skills Challenge is about two things, the chest pass and the top-of-the-key 3-pointer. Connect on the chest pass and you’re out to an early lead, but if you can’t make the three, your opponent can come from behind. Dinwiddie connected on his first chest pass to get out to a big lead on Markkanen. He missed his first 3-point attempt, but still had plenty of time and sunk his second before Markkanen could make it to the line.

“That’s one of the marks of my game, being able to affect the game in multiple ways, whether it be passing, defending or scoring,” Dinwiddie said afterward. “Good thing they didn’t have a rebounding challenge, I guess, in this or I wouldn’t have won it.”

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Lauri Markkanen eliminated Joel Embiid in the semifinals.

In the semifinals, Dinwiddie eliminated the Nuggets’ Jamal Murray, who had an early lead, but missed his first 3-point attempt. Dinwiddie was right behind him and sunk his first three to advance to the final. Markkanen eliminated the Sixers’ Joel Embiid in what was an even matchup until the 3-point shot, which Markkanen made on his first attempt.

In the first round, Dinwiddie came from behind and sunk his first 3-pointer to beat the Kings’ Buddy Hield, who missed his first two attempts. Murray took an early lead by connecting on his first chest pass and didn’t give it up, making his third 3-point attempt before the Clippers’ Lou Williams could attempt his first.

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Joel Embiid topped Al Horford in the first round.

Embiid eliminated the Celtics’ Al Horford, who had an early lead, but missed his first three 3-point attempts, while Markkanen eliminated the Pistons’ Andre Drummond by completing his chest pass first and knocking down his first jumper.

The Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis was unable to defend his 2017 title, having torn his ACL earlier this month.

For a complete list of previous winners please click here.

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Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers

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Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.



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Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers

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Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.

Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.

 The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.

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Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup

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Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.

During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.

Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.



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