by Lang Whitaker

We’re here in Dallas, courtside, ready for a big Saturday night. I’ll be here all evening, live-blogging away. Please join me.

Thing tip off in a bit. See you then…

• It’s 7:46 PM here in Dallas, and Ben and I are sitting here behind the basket. Been a crazy busy 24 hours since we arrived in Big D, and there hasn’t been a lot of sleep built-in. So if I lose my mind tonight and start dozing off, please don’t hesitate to wake meup andd a[ pfaeijfaljealzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

• I’m going to occasionally incorporate funny/interesting tweets here, too. Just read that @OliviaMunn tweeted: “Just got to Dallas for Bing dinner with JayZ and LeBron. I hope the night ends with an intense game of Taboo!” Bing? LeBron? Jay-Z?

• Five minutes before start time and this place is pretty empty. The snow was bad here, but the roads seem mostly cleaned off now.

• Dallas legend Derek Harper in the house, wearing a plaid beret. Presented without commentary.

• Robert (don’t call me Rob or Bob or anything else) Horry in the house, with some muscular arms. He must work out. Darryl Dawkins is also here wearing a Chinese-pattern blazer. Seriously.

• Erykah Badu is going to perform tonight. That has some potential.

• Also spotted, Oscar Robertson, Spike Lee. Ben said he saw Paul Simon, but I couldn’t find him, until I realized I was supposed to be looking for someone who appears to be 90 years old.

• Just saw via Twitter that Kevin Durant won HORSE. Completely unsurprising, right? I’m still salty that Monta Ellis wasn’t invited.

HAIER SHOOTING STARS
• It’s time for the Haier Shooting Stars, traditionally one of the most convoluted things about All-Star Weekend, as well as life in general. I’m not sure what’s going on, but Steve Smith and Joe Johnson would seem to be a pretty formidable duo for Atlanta, at least for a jump-shooting competition.

• In-arena announcer just asked Dirk Nowitzki how his halfcourt shot is. Dirk: “It’s a little suspect.”

• Canadian National Anthem is being performed by Canadian pop “star” Cretia (sp?) Turner. Anyone remember when Fefe Dobson was a pop star?

• US National Anthem is by Nota, the dudes who won “The Sing-Off.” They’re actually really good. Nice pick, NBA.

• Shaq Diesel in the house, in a nice gray suit. Spud Webb. Bruce Bowen. Jerry Stackhouse. Basically, all of Russ’s favorites.

• There’s a laptop and backpack sitting here next to me, that’s been unattended all night. Maybe they’re listening devices left here by the NBA to spy on me and Ben? Or maybe some Canadian pop authorities upset about me talking about Fefe Dobson.

• Hey, let’s meet the Shooting Stars!
Team ATL (SHAWTY): Angel McCaughtry, Steve Smith and Joe Johnson
LA: Marie Ferdinand-Harris, Brent Barry and Pau Gasol
Sacto: Nicole Powell (who actually plays for the NY Liberty), Chris Webber, Tyreke Evans
Team Texas: Becky Hammon, Kenny Smith(?), Dirk Nowitzki

The geographical affiliations are apparently rather loose.

• Courtside: Chris Tucker, Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar

• Team Atlanta starts with Angel McCaughtry bricking about 10 shots from the wing, Joe Johnson swishing his jumper, then Steve Smith bricking about ten. Takes forever, and they can’t hit from halfcourt. Feels like it’s taking weeks. Love that Joe Johnson is shooting jump shots from halfcourt. They finish in 1:47.

• Team Los Angeles finishes in 1 minute flat. Brent Barry earns early bragging rights at our next NBA TV mixer.

• I love that they have referees for this thing.

• Also cool that Paul Simon is sitting next to Mary J. Blige, who is wearing sunglasses. The shooting stars hurt her eyes.

• Sacramento stumbled in and finished in 1:46, which means Atlanta has been eliminated. Wait, there’s multiple rounds to this thing?

• Team Texas make toast (see what I did there) of Team Sacto. That means Team LA and Team Texas are in the Finals! (I capitalized the word “Finals” to show its importance.)

• Mary J.’s husband is killing some nachos right now.

• MUTOMBO is here! The dunk contest will be complete! This makes my heart happy.

• Finals. Team Texas rips it, finishes in an impressive 34.3. I mean, I guess that’s impressive. For a Haier Shooting Stars competition.

• Team Los Angeles. Brent Barry is wearing running shoes, I just noticed. Los Angeles has a shot but finishes in 55.2

• Team Texas FTW.

TACO BELL SKILL CHALLENGE
• Long break there. Went to the bathroom, ran into Howard Beck in the work room and made the mistake of asking Howard how his travel was. Twenty minutes later, I was still standing there, shaking my head. Someone should make a compendium of #AS10 #snowpocolypse stories.

• Russell Westbrook goes first, finishing in…ah, I don’t know. Whatever.

• Brandon Jennings goes second, finishes in 35.7, which is good enough for first place and half a dozen Mexi Melts.

• Steve Nash! Heard you had some trouble with the flame, homey. Sorry to hear that. At least you did this in 35 seconds, which eliminates Russell Westbrook and earns Nash a Gordita supreme!

• Finally, Deron Williams, who finishes in 34.1, which means Deron Williams and Steve Nash are in the finals of the Taco Bell skills challenge.

• I heard the winner here gets a lifetime supply of black tacos!

• They should make the Taco Bell Skills Challenge more representative of things you need to do at Taco Bell. Like, dip the ball in nacho cheese, use the ball to scrape lettuce off a taco that you ordered with no lettuce, and then sprint for the res…never mind.

• Nash sped through the Finals, and Williams had a chance to beat him but couldn’t because he had trouble over and over making one particular pass. He actually airballed one pass. Tough to do.

• Nash wins. Free black tacos for life!

• Wifey just texted me and pointed out that the Skills Challenge is like what they make the dogs do on the Purina Dog Challenge. Maybe the skills challenge should end with a long jump into a lap pool.

• Marie Ferdinand-Harris, Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade come speak on Haiti, which is followed by a video of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton encouraging people to give to relief efforts. This is complemented by a performance from Erykah Badu, who is dressed like Inspector Gadget.

FOOT LOCKER THREE-POINT CONTEST
• Channing Frye was awesome in “Step Up To the Streets.”

• It would be funny if Steph Curry wins the Three-Point Shootout and then Nelly immediately benches him.

• Emmitt Smith in the house. Yay.

• Paul Pierce first out of the box, finishes with 17. Billups goes for 17, too. And Curry has 18.

• The Fat Male Mavs dancers come out and perform to Ke$ha and other current songs. if you ask me, nothing’s funnier than obesity.

• Sorry, we’re having mad problems with the website. (©2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)

• Galinari goes for 15 and gets eliminated, as Spike Lee claps his encouragement. Channing Frye goes for 15, and Daequan Cook goes for 15 as well.

• Yes, here comes Nota again. So this is who bought all those Manhattan Transfer albums.

• This is best acapella Michael Jackson tribute I’ve ever seen at All-Star Saturday Night.

• Final round. Pierce with 20, Billups with 14, and Curry with 17. Pierce wins. Big deal, I could beat any of them here.

• On the overhead screen they ask All-Stars can name any of the seven dwarves. Dwight Howard says Sneezy…Weezy…and Jeezy.

SPRITE SLAM DUNK
• OK, here we go. I’m looking forward to this. I’ve got a feeling that DeRozan might pull some stuff outta nowhere. DeRozan, Nate Robinson, Shannon Brown and Gerald Wallace. Either way, all your snark aside, this is a respectable field.

• Judges are introduced as “experts of the dunk.” The first one introduced is Mark Aguirre, and then Ro Blackmon, Derek Harper, and then two Atlanta Hawks, Nique and Spud. (I applauded when they intro’d Nique. Yes, from press row. Sue me.)

• Nate Robinson is shorter than the T-Wolves mascot. Still amazing to me that he can dunk like he does.

• DeRozan gets a 42 for going thru the legs and reversing with two hands. Kinda fresh.

• Shannon Brown makes all the Mavs dancers move out of the way and clears a long path down the court. He runs from far away, does a Statue of Liberty 360 (Stansbury!) and misses. He follows it up by going up righty and switching to lefty. Eh. He finishes with a 37.

• I like that the judges are tough off the bat. Setting a tough standard.

• Gerald Wallace misses off the bat, then makes a lame double pump reverse that draws some boos. He gets a 38. Well.

• Nate! Misses the two-handed windmill off the toss, then nails it. That was pretty nice. He gets a 44, giving him the lead. BTW, talked to Nate last night at the ESPN party and he told me he wasn’t going to use any props, just focus on dunking. So far, so good.

ROUND TWO!
• Kobe just walked out on the floor in his warmups. Shannon should just dunk on him.

• Shannon runs down the right sideline, flies into the air and…catches an alley-oop? 41. I just unfollowed @letshannondunk on Twitter.

• Gerald Wallace brings out Flip Murray(!) to help him. Flip bounces it off the floor, Wallace runs baseline, catches, flies under the rim and reverses with one hand.

• DeRozan! There’s our first electric moment of the night. Off the side of the glass, windmills, 50! Nice.

• Galinari comes over the help Nate Robinson, and after a few tries he makes a nice toss to Nate, who catches and basically does a 360 or something close to that. 45. Nate and DeMar move on.

(• Funniest in-arena moment of the night so far was when Shannon Brown made his second dunk, which was underwhelming, and the scoreboard immediately cut to a close-up of a deeply concerned Chris Tucker.)

• Bennie the Bull just did the Single Ladies dance in front of Puffy and Jay-Z, who both kept straight faces. Funny.

FINALS
• Nate misses two dunks from under the rim, then comes back and makes an easy toss and dunk. Eh.

• DeRozan. Jumps over Sonny Weems (twice) and catches the oop and dunks with one hand.

• Nate Robinson…Nate! Off the glass, double-pump reverse, then grabs the Cowboys cheerleaders pom-poms and leads the crowd. Too bad both dunks count. That was amazing, looks better in slo-mo.

• DeRozan with a two-handed windmill, uninspired.

• So…I don’t know, I guess I’d vote for Nate.

• And the winner is…Nate Robinson, the people’s champ.

• OK, going to a party. Thanks for hanging in all night with us. We’ll be back tomorrow night for the 2010 All-Star Game from Cowboys Stadium. See ya…