- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2009

PHOENIX | Call him Krypto-Nate.

Nate Robinson tugged on Superman’s cape - and won.

The diminutive New York Knicks guard beat defending champion Dwight Howard in an electrifying slam dunk contest on Saturday night, winning 52 percent of fans’ votes.

Clad in an all-green Knicks uniform with green shoes, Robinson used Howard as a prop in the final round, springboarding over the 6-foot-11 center to jam.

“Dwight was a great sport letting me dunk over him,” said the 5-foot-9 Robinson, who also won in 2006.

Howard, who scored a perfect 50 on both of his first-round dunks, performed the most theatrical dunk of the night in the first round.

He disappeared into a phone booth just off the court, emerging with a Superman cape.

Howard waved his arms to the crowd as an 11-foot basket was wheeled onto the floor. Howard took a bounce pass from teammate Jameer Nelson and tomahawked a dunk as U.S. Airways Center exploded.

Robinson had fired up fans by leaping off the back of teammate Wilson Chandler, who crouched on all fours in the lane, drawing applause from longtime Knicks fan Spike Lee.

“I got the championship back to New York City,” Robinson said.

Portland’s Rudy Fernandez and Denver’s J.R. Smith were eliminated in the first round.

Earlier, Miami’s Daequan Cook connected over and over again when the 3-Point Shootout went to an extra session.

When the long-distance contest went to overtime, Cook found his stroke.

The Heat guard posted the best total of the competition with 19 points in the extra round, cruising past Orlando’s Rashard Lewis to win the title and end Jason Kapono’s two-year run as king of one of All-Star Saturday’s marquee events.

Lewis sputtered in the third session, missing his first 11 shots to finish with seven points.

Cook had forced overtime by hitting his final four shots in the second round of the six-man competition.

“It was very important for me to be focused,” Cook said. “I felt this was my opportunity to show people that I should be considered as one of the elite 3-point shooters in the game, so tonight I came out and did that.”

Afterward, Cook waved to teammate Dwyane Wade, who had been cheering from a courtside seat. Cook said Wade had encouraged him as the contest approached.

“This was one of the times this weekend that I wanted to take over,” Cook said. “We’ve just been talking about it, and luckily I did it tonight.”

Kapono came up one point short in the second round. The Toronto Raptors sharpshooter was trying to become the third player to capture three straight titles in the event, following former Chicago Bulls guard Craig Hodges, who won from 1990 to 1992, and Boston Hall of Famer Larry Bird, who won from 1986 to 1988.

Mike Bibby of the Atlanta Hawks, Danny Granger of Indiana and Roger Mason of San Antonio were eliminated in the first round. Mason is something of a local villain after hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lead the Spurs to a 91-90 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Christmas Day.

Chicago’s Derrick Rose capped his Skills Challenge victory with a double-pump reverse dunk.

Rose defeated New Jersey’s Devin Harris in the final round, navigating the obstacle course consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations in 35.3 seconds, 4.4 seconds faster than Harris.

“I was just taking my time, going against a great group of guys,” Rose said.

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