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Clippers now share the spotlight in L.A.

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Clippers now share the spotlight in L.A.

After years of playing second fiddle to the high profile L.A. Lakers, the Clippers are finally a major player in their own town and the rest of the NBA.

Fresh off their first playoff appearance since the 2005-06 season, the Clippers return their marquee players Blake Griffin and Chris Paul but they also have been very active in the off-season, looking to go farther than last year's second round.

The two all-stars Griffin and Paul are the straws that stir the Clippers' drink but the team surrounded them with more veteran options this summer, including forwards Lamar Odom and Grant Hill and guard Jamal Crawford.

The Clippers gave Odom a new lease on his NBA career after returning to Los Angleles following a failed run with Dallas. The multi-faceted 6'-11" Odom was sixth man of the year two seasons ago with the Lakers,averaging14 points and 8 assists, but his numbers crashed with Dallas as he put up only 6 points last season.

Odom was deactivated late in the season when Dallas felt his effort wasn't good enough. If Odom can find his game, he could really help the Clippers up front and take the pressure off Griffin.

Looking for depth at the small forward spot, the Clippers added swing man Grant Hill, signing him to a two-year deal. The soon-to-be 40-year-old Hill averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds for Phoenix last season and the Clippers think he still has a few good years left in him.

With former Wizards guard Nick Young headed to Philadelphia, the Clippers needed a shooter and they got it in signing free-agent Jamal Crawford to a three-year deal. Last season in Portland, Crawford averaged 14 points a game off the bench and will provide instant offense to the Clippers off the pine.

Aftermissingmost oflastseason with a knee injury, veteran guard Chauncey Billups signed a one-year deal to stick with the Clippers. Billups could start at the shooting guard spot like he did when he was healthy last year.

The Clippers also added two big men to back up D'Andre Jordan, with Ryan Hollins and former Wizard Ronny Turiaf coming on board.

Blake Griffin, who averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds last season, was extended this summer for 5 more years worth 95 million. Chris Paul -- who plays like he has the ball on a string -- put up 20 points and 9 assists last season and he will be a free-agent after this season, but the Clippers will do all they can to keep him.

The building blocks are there and the Clippers are building to be a legitimate contender for seasons to come.

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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Saturday Night is here with the three-point contest, dunk contest and skills competition set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

2018 NBA ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Skills competition

Participants: Lou Williams, Clippers; Jamal Murray, Nuggets; Al Horford, Celtics; Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets; Joel Embiid, Sixers; Buddy Hield, Kings; Lauri Markkanen, Bulls; Andre Drummond, Pistons

What to know: This year's crop has a fascinating mix of guards and big men and don't sleep on the seven-footers. Embiid in particular has a unique skillset for his size. Still, it's tough to beat the guards. Watch out for Dinwiddie, who is the best passer of the bunch.

RELATED: BETTING ODDS FOR DUNK CONTEST, THREE-POINT CONTEST

Three-point contest

Participants: Klay Thompson, Warriors; Eric Gordon, Rockets; Devin Booker, Suns; Paul George, Thunder; Wayne Ellington, Heat; Bradley Beal, Wizards; Kyle Lowry, Raptors; Tobias Harris, Clippers

What to know: Thompson and Gordon enter the contest as past champions, as Thompson won it in 2016 and Gordon took it home last year. Thompson has the best three-point percentage among the group and is the favorite, but watch out for Beal, a past runner-up, and George who has the second best percentage. Also, Booker is one of the game's best young players and has a very smooth stroke from three.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Dunk contest

Participants: Dennis Smith Jr.; Mavericks; Donovan Mitchell, Jazz; Larry Nance Jr., Cavaliers; Victor Oladipo, Pacers

What to know: This is all about the rookies, Smith and Mitchell, who most are predicting to win. Oladipo has been in the contest before, but didn't win. He's also the only All-Star of the bunch. Nance is the only guy who isn't a guard and his father won it back in 1984. It will be interesting to see if he does some sort of nod to his old man, now 34 years later.

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