PORTLAND — Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews has been named as one of eight participants in the 3-point contest during NBA All-Star Weekend in New York.
Matthews was seen working on what he called “a new shooting drill” in practice Monday, which was a practice for the contest. His participation was made official by the NBA on Thursday.
“I’m excited for Portland,” Matthews said. “I’m excited for my family, my friends, everybody back home. Portland’s really rallied around it especially after last season. It’s another chance to compete at the highest level, and hopefully I’ll bring a championship back here.”
Matthews then jokingly credited teammate Allen Crabbe, who was sitting in the locker next to him.
“I think shooting over this guy for two years now, he’s really helped me,” Matthews said.
Matthews, the NBA’s 3-point leader, joins Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Atlanta’s Kyle Korver, JJ Redick of the Los Angeles Clippers, Kyrie Irving of Cleveland, James Harden of Houston and 2014 3-point champion Marco Bellinelli of San Antonio.
Some are already dubbing the field as the best in the NBA’s new era with an increased emphasis on 3-point shooting. The trash talk between Matthews and Curry, Matthews’ roommate during pre-draft workouts, has already begun.
“The field is crazy,” Matthews said. “(I’m) excited about the competition. Me and Steph have even gone back and forth talking some crap to each other.”
Matthews participated in the Rising Stars Game in 2011, so he is familiar with All-Star weekend, just not competing on Saturday night.
“The first time it was so much stuff going on,” Matthews recalls. “It was fun. Eyes were wide open. Didn’t know what to expect. I’m looking forward to it. Again I’m doing something I haven’t done. Last time it was easy because I was playing basketball, I was playing a game.”
Matthews said he has only practiced one day on the 3-point shootout but he plans to “get his reps in.”
Also, the way the NBA selected the field, Matthews will be the first to shoot.
Kaman out Thursday
The Blazers announced prior to Thursday’s tip-off that back-up center Chris Kaman would be out for the game with lower back pain.
It is the first game Kaman has missed since Dec. 26, which he missed for the birth of his newborn.
Victor Claver was placed on the active roster in place of Kaman.