Ceballos' blind dunk slams foes Hodges runs distance streak to 3


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Phoenix Suns forward Cedric Ceballos is blessed with an impressive physique, but not a lot of playing time.

But he apparently has been using his spare time to work on his dunk repertoire. Finishing with a blindfolded slam, Ceballos surprised a sellout crowd at the Orlando Arena last night by winning the Gatorade Slam Dunk Championship as a part of the NBA's All-Star Saturday skills competition.

Also, Chicago Bulls guard Craig Hodges won his third straight American Airlines/ITT-Sheraton Long Distance Shootout, turning back Sacramento Kings guard Jim Les.

Ceballos, a 6-foot-6 two-year veteran, beat a field of seven , including Seattle SuperSonics forward Shawn Kemp, last year's runner-up and this year's favorite, and Charlotte Hornets rookei Larry Johnson, Ceballos' challenger in the finals, for a first prize of $20,000.

Ceballos capped his win with a blindfolded dunk. He started from the far hash mark of the court, counted his steps and slammed the ball through the hoop.

The distance shooting competition was a surprise. The Utah Jazz's John Stockton and the Suns' Jeff Hornacek, both All-Stars who were expected to challenge for the title, were eliminated in the first round. This event required the contestants to hit as many shots as possible in one minute from five racks of five balls positioned around the three-point arc.

In the semifinals, the Kings' Mitch Richmond was eliminated along with the New Jersey Nets' Drazen Petrovic, who hit his last three shots but had stepped over the three-point line on each, nullifying them.

Les, a 5-11 guard who began last season with the Omaha Racers of the Continental Basketball Association, led Hodges through the semifinal round of the competition, scoring 16 points in the first round to tie Hodges.

Les, who was the NBA leader in three-point shooting percentage last season, chose to shoot second, after Hodges.

In the final round, Hodges, who hit 19 straight shots last year to set an event record, got hot on the middle set of balls, hitting nine of 10 shots at one point for 16 points.

Earlier, a team of East stars defeated the West, 46-38, in the Schick Legends Classic old-timers game, which was most noteworthy for two serious leg injuries.

Former Denver Nuggets and North Carolina State great David Thompson suffered a ruptured left patella tendon late in the first half, and former Los Angeles Lakers guard Norm Nixon ruptured his right quadriceps tendon midway through the second half of the 24-minute game.

Both were hospitalized and will require surgery. George Gervin, formerly of the San Antonio Spurs, led scorers with 24 points.

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