HOUSTON -- Stephen Curry was starting to feel it. The Warriors point guard made 12 of his final 15 shots, including nine in a row. When he took his seat, he was feeling good about the possibilities for the next round.
Only he didn't make it to the next round, doomed by a slow start and a new format to the All-Star weekend's 3-point contest. After totaling two points through the first two racks, Curry finished with 17 points.
That's usually not a bad first round. But this year featured a new two-round format. Each of the six players, three from the West and three from the East, got one round. The best from the West and the East faced off in the finals. Curry's 17 turned out to be the worst of the West.
San Antonio's Matt Bonner advanced from the West and lost in the final round to Cleveland's Kyrie Irving. Curry never got another shot.
"I would've gotten 27," Curry said with a smile.
Curry is 0 for 2 in 3-point contests. As a rookie, he finished second to Boston's Paul Pierce. But his reputation as a deadly shooter is still intact.
"He's just a natural shooter," said New Orleans Hornets forward Ryan Anderson, a former Cal star, who leads the NBA with 159 made 3-pointers. "There are some guys who make a shot look tough. He makes it look so simple and easy. He's just a smooth, very precise, accurate shooter."
Curry is shooting 44.3 percent from 3-point range for his career, which is second all-time to Steve Kerr (45.4).
This season, he is second in the NBA in 3-pointers made (149) and 3-point percentage (44.7).
But what many find most impressive about Curry is the diversity in his shooting ability. Lately, he has been working on mastering floaters, and he's falling in love with the midrange jumper off the glass.
"I consider him the best shooter in the NBA," TNT analyst Kenny Smith said. "He doesn't only shoot standstill jumpers. He can shoot floaters, midrange. He mixes it up."
But what makes Curry's stroke so effective and pretty? He said about 25 percent of it is intangibles: touch, depth perception, "genetics."
What made him an elite shooter was the other 75 percent, which he said was hard work in mastering his technique. Years of practice, hundreds of thousands of shots, countless hours watching his dad, former NBA star Dell Curry.
"His shot is simple," New York Knicks forward Steve Novak said. "He doesn't jump too high, doesn't do too much. He's just consistent. I think the lack of motion he has in his shot makes him able to reproduce it over and over."
Curry complements his elite shooting with other skills to become a formidable offensive threat. He is on pace for a career high in points (21.0), assists (6.6) and minutes (37.5).
He has been good enough to command respect from his peers. Even reigning MVP LeBron James said Curry should have been an All-Star, a pretty significant consolation prize for Curry after not being selected a Western Conference reserve.
It all centers on that shot.
"You've got to have good balance," Curry said. "A lot of people focus on your hands in the jump shot, but it starts with your base, with your feet being squared to the basket and having good balance."
Upon that foundation, Curry groomed enviable form.
It was on full display for a stretch Saturday. Curry, who went first, missed all of his shots on the second rack and the first one from the top of the key. But then he made one, and seeing the ball go through the net triggered something.
Before long, he wasn't even touching the rim.
But it was too little too late. Missing two money balls came back to haunt him.
"It was disappointing at first," Curry said. "Obviously, it's a competition and you want to win. Going first hurt a little bit. But it was fun. ... I want to do this every year."
Shooting Stars: Chris Bosh, Swin Cash, Dominique Wilkins -- East
Skills Challenge: Damian Lillard -- West
3-Point Contest: Kyrie Irving -- East
Slam Dunk Contest: Terrence Ross -- East
Overall winner: West
Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference, 5 p.m. TNT
Warriors (30-22) at Utah (30-24), 6 p.m. CSNBA