HOUSTON -- Three years ago, 21-year-old Warriors rookie Stephen Curry appeared to have a stranglehold on his first three-point contest.
He dominated the first round and was setting the pace through the first two racks of the final round with seven makes, including both money balls. Then, Curry went cold, hitting just one shot off the third rack from the top of the three-point arc.
Curry was bested by the Celtics' Paul Pierce, who lost badly in 2002 and was out for vengeance. This year, it's the Warriors' guard with history to re-write.
Now 24 years old, Curry is taking his preparation seriously. Cameras caught the guard's impressive practice round, when he scored 27 (including two-point money balls) while shooting off all five racks at the Warriors practice facility in Oakland.
As his competitor in this year's competition explains, it's an event worth practicing.
"It's so unnatural to shoot off the rack," former Cal Bear Ryan Anderson said. "The timing, you have to figure which side of the rack you want to shoot off of it."
With his gameplan mapped out at practice, Curry will focus on the fundamentals of shooting.
"You've got to have good balance," Curry said Friday, explaining what makes a good shooter. "Obviously your starts. A lot of people focus on your hands and jump starts, but it starts at your base, at your feet, being square to the basket and having good balance. You've got to have solid followthrough, each shot is smooth. I think the third thing is trying to shoot the same way every single time. And that comes with a lot of practice. Everybody has different form. You can look at every single NBA player, everybody shoots a different way. But the best shooters shoot the exact same way every time they look at the basket. You have to rely on your fundamentals in game situations, especially when you go through a shooting slump. If you stick with the routine, it will turnaround."
Curry knows the routine. His continues a lineage of NBA shooters, and he is well aware.
"A lot of his genes, I think that definitely helped," said Curry, speaking about his father Dell's contributions to his development. "It was nice to have one of the best shooters in the NBA history to help me."
The younger Curry is making Dad proud. He leads this year's field in three-point percentage for the season (142-for-316, .449) as well as career (514-for-1,159, .443). Trailing Curry in each is the Knicks' Steve Novak, and he expects the competition to be fierce.
"Steph is a great shooter," Novak said. "I think this Saturday is going to be good all around. There's not one guy that can't win it."
All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Paul George join Novak to form the Eastern Conference team, and will be shooting against Curry, Anderson and Matt Bonner.
For the first year, the format will pit the East against the West in a four-event competition that will raise money for charity and determine the conference that earns the title of 2013 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night Champion.
Curry's quest for the West begins at 5 p.m. PT from the Toyota Center in Houston. Think he's got it?
Check out his practice round: