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Nate wins slam dunk title a third time

DALLAS - Nate Robinson is the NBA's first three-time slam dunk champion.

The smallest of the Knicks barely won another title during last night's All-Star festivities, garnering 51 percent of the fan vote to hold off Toronto rookie DeMar DeRozan, who advanced to the final round after getting a perfect score of 50 on his second dunk of the first round.

The final dunk for the 5-9 Robinson came when he threw the ball off the backboard, grabbed it and turned in midair for a two-handed backward slam.

Robinson was joined on the court for the final round by several Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, though they weren't used as props for any of his dunks.

"They're way too beautiful for that," Robinson said. "I just wanted them to stand over there and cheer."

After his final slam, Robinson celebrated by grabbing a pair of silver and blue pompons from one of them and waving them in the air.

DeRozan got a spot in the competition by winning the first-ever All-Star Slam Dunk-In, beating Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon at halftime of the rookie challenge Friday night.

Charlotte's Gerald Wallace and Shannon Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated after the first round in last night's marquee event.

DeRozan got into the final round after recording a 50 when he caught a pass off the side of the backboard and slammed it with his right hand on the other side of the hoop.

The five 10s came from a judging panel that included former dunk champions Spud Webb and Dominique Wilkins. The 5-7 Webb, a Dallas native, won the event the only other time it was held in his hometown in 1986.

Fan voting determined the winner after Robinson and DeRozan both dunked twice in the final round.

Robinson won the dunk title as a rookie in 2006, then beat Dwight Howard to win again last year.

Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash also was a winner last night, beating the young guys to capture another Skills Challenge title.

Nash, who turned 36 last Sunday, became a two-time Skills champion when he beat a trio of 20-somethings.

It's been quite a run this weekend for the Canadian, who helped light the Olympic cauldron at Friday's opening ceremonies in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also will be on the court Sunday for the All-Star Game in the same area where he played from 1998-2004.

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