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Richardson puts on quite a show

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 9, 2003

ATLANTA -- Jason Richardson's bounce pass off Carlos Boozer's forehead was the highlight of the afternoon. His final throw-down in the dunk contest was the perfect ending to the night.

Richardson had the most dynamic day of any of the participants in All-Star Saturday -- even if one of his opponents in the Rookie Challenge wasn't all that happy about it.

Richardson led all scorers with 31 points in the rookie game, ending it by hitting a 3-pointer after he bounced a pass to himself off Boozer.

"He was just trying to get the crowd riled up, but he has no class. You don't do that," Boozer said.

The second-year Warriors guard then beat Desmond Mason 96-93 in the final round to become the first repeat winner of the dunk contest since Michael Jordan did it 15 years earlier.

Richardson finished things off with a spectacular dunk, catching his lob pass, putting the ball between his legs and switching it from his right hand to his left before slamming it through.

Richardson raised his arms in triumph as Jordan, one of five judges, gave him a perfect score of 10. The other judges gave him the same score, giving Richardson 50 on three of his four dunks in the contest.

"I knew if I got the last dunk, I could win the contest," Richardson said. "You do all the dunks you don't have time to do in a game. You can be creative and take your time."

Gilbert Arenas scored 30 and was named MVP of the afternoon's game.

PEJA GOES DISTANCE: Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic won another 3-point championship with a do-over when he was given a second chance after a buzzer went off midway through his round. He took advantage by scoring 22 of a possible 30 points to beat Wesley Person of the Grizzlies.

The final was a rematch between last year's top two, with the same result.

KIDD HAS SKILLS: New Jersey's Jason Kidd was accurate when it counted, beating pal Gary Payton in the first Skills Challenge by making only three mistakes in the final.

Contestants had to make a layup, dribble through obstacles, throw a chest pass and bounce pass, hit a 3-pointer, throw an outlet pass then dribble again before completing the run with a layup.

PLAYOFF CHANGE: The league and the players union agreed to expand the first round of the playoffs this season to a best-of-seven format.

Commissioner David Stern also said that 17-year-old Darko Milicic of Yugoslavia will be eligible for the draft.

The players agreed to expand the first round from a best-of-five format in exchange for an increase in postseason bonus money and additional time off for veterans at the start of training camps.

The draft eligibility change allows international players to declare for the draft in the year in which they turn 18.

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