INDIANAPOLIS — Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard defended his NBA 3-point contest title by finishing with 26 points in the final round during All-Star Saturday night.

Hawks star Trae Young finished tied for second with 24 points. Young also participated in the skills challenge, playing for Team All-Stars, which lost to Team Pacers in a tiebreaker.

Lillard, who won with Portland last season, became the eighth player to win at least two 3-point crowns and the first since Jason Kapono in 2007 and 2008 to do it in consecutive years.

This one nearly ended without Lillard advancing to the final round. Four players — Lillard, Young, Tyrese Haliburton of Indiana and Karl Anthony-Towns of Minnesota — finished in a tie for the three spots in the last round. Haliburton was eliminated in the tiebreaking round with 12 points.

Then in the final, Young and Towns each put up 24 points, giving Lillard a chance to win it with a late shooting flurry that gave him the title.

In a special 3-point contest, Stephen Curry of the Warriors edged WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu.

The NBA’s all-time 3-point king beat Ionescu 29-26 in the Steph vs. Sabrina competition, the first such him-vs.-her event of its kind at the league’s weekend showcase.

“For us to deliver a show like that, it was perfect,” Curry said. “As much excitement as you can build in that short amount of time with two great shooters going at it. This is something we’ll remember for a long time.”

Ionescu won the WNBA’s 3-point shootout at its All-Star weekend last year with a record 37 points, smashing Curry’s NBA shootout mark of 31 points. From there, a challenge was thrown down and the plan was concocted for them to meet at All-Star weekend.

“Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we do this,” Ionescu said.

Given how the fans — and really, everybody from both the NBA and WNBA — seemed to love it, it likely won’t be the last time, especially since Curry and Ionescu talked afterward about adding partners to the mix next year when All-Star weekend just happens to be in San Francisco, the area where he plays and she calls home.

“This was so authentic for the both of us to be able to be here, finally not in a closed gym, shooting in front of everyone watching and understanding what it means for ourselves but also the bigger picture,” Ionescu said. “This is where I wanted to be. ... It’s changed the landscape of how people view what we’re doing.”

Osceola Magic's Mac McClung dunks during the slam dunk competition at the NBA basketball All-Star weekend, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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Credit: AP

Curry has been inspiring Ionescu for more than half her life. Ionescu’s family had season tickets to Warriors games. He gave her a high-five once when he was in the tunnel connecting the locker room and the court. She had a photo of him as her screensaver.

Years later, when Ionescu was starring at Oregon, she was the one high-fiving Curry’s daughters — who love her. And on Saturday, Ionescu said the experience of just being part of something so unique on the All-Star stage taught her a key lesson.

“To just keep believing in myself,” she said. “You know, 10 years ago, I never would have thought this was possible. And so being able to be up here ... it’s a blessing and an opportunity to even be in the same conversation as Steph and to be able to see how much he’s respected me as a player and a basketball player and a person to want to come out here and do this.”

G-League champion Mac McClung won his second straight slam dunk contest by grabbing the ball out of Shaquille O’Neal’s hands and leaping over him to draw five perfect scores on his final attempt.

McClung finished with 98.8 points on his final two dunks, one point ahead of Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown of Atlanta.