NBA

Heat F James Jones invited to NBA 3-point shootout

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MIAMI (AP)

James Jones already had plans to be in Los Angeles for All-Star weekend. As the player representative for the Miami Heat, he needed to be there for labor talks.

His schedule for the trip just got considerably busier.

Jones was announced Tuesday as one of six selections for the NBA's 3-point shootout, part of the All-Star Saturday night lineup. He almost exclusively shoots 3's for the Heat; of his 251 shots entering Tuesday, 213 of them had come from beyond the arc.

''I was as surprised as anyone else when I found out I was invited, just because I don't look at what I do as anything spectacular or special,'' Jones said. ''I'm a specialist and I think 95 percent of my shots are 3's. Naturally I take a lot, and I make a lot.''

Jones finished the 2007-08 season as the NBA's third-best 3-point shooter, then struggled for nearly two years with a right wrist injury - his shooting wrist - that had him wondering if he would ever regain top form.

Wonder no more.

Jones' 91 3-pointers entering Tuesday already were 21 more than he made in the past two seasons combined, and he's on pace to smash his single-season best of 110.

''We're happy about it,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''He's deserved it and he's put in a lot of time on that shot. Because of his release and the way he shoots, he might have a shot at this thing. But he's been very valuable for us, playing different roles.''

Also in the field are defending champion Paul Pierce, fellow Celtics All-Star Ray Allen, NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Golden State's Dorell Wright and Cleveland's Daniel Gibson.

Allen is on the cusp of becoming the league's all-time 3-point king, Pierce knows how to win the event, and Wright - a former Heat player - is having a breakout season for the Warriors, particularly because of his 3-point shooting.

But the stand-still-type of shooters, like Durant and Jones, think that style is the one that works best in the event.

''I think he has a smooth 3-point shot that doesn't take a lot of energy,'' Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said of Durant. ''He gets it up there with ease, and he doesn't jump on his 3-point shot. That 25 shots can wear you out in a minute, if you get to the later rounds. He can win it. I guarantee a win.''

Durant offered no guarantees.

''Hopefully I can have a good time,'' he said, ''and hopefully I come back with a win.''

Jones is the fourth Miami player to earn an invite to the league's midseason showcase weekend. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are Eastern Conference starters, and Chris Bosh was selected as a reserve.

They're thrilled Jones will be wearing Heat colors as well.

''He will have some pressure,'' James said Tuesday, somewhat good-naturedly. ''We haven't talked about it yet, but I've had a few teammates be a part of All-Star weekend. ... It's fun when you can get a teammate out there.''

The 3-point shootout tends to be interesting in that competitors need to get used to grabbing balls off a rack before letting shots fly. Jones said he doesn't think that'll take much getting used to, nor does he think anyone - even players used to catching-and-shooting their 3's - will struggle with the format.

''I've been shooting my entire life. They've been shooting their entire lives,'' Jones said. ''If you go into something like this trying to switch it up and reinvent the wheel, you don't have a shot.''

---

AP Sports Writer Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

Tagged: Celtics, Warriors, Heat, LeBron James, James Jones

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