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Chauncey Billups, Mike Conley, Zach LaVine and Allie Quigley joined quite the exclusive club Sunday. They won a nationally televised HORSE competition put on by the NBA in an effort to provide content during a worldwide pandemic that forced a suspension of the current season. After Devin Booker won the NBA 2K Players Tournament, the league organized an eight-player HORSE competition featuring some of the game’s brightest stars from a list of current players, WNBA players and former players. The rules were straightforward for anyone familiar with the backyard game. A coin toss determined who shot first for each game, and — much to the detriment of the high-flying LaVine— dunking was not allowed. Whichever player couldn’t match a shot five times and accumulated the letters HORSE was ousted from the single-elimination tournament. The games were filmed at home locations to accommodate social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic, and State Farm is donating more than $ , to charities involved in relief efforts on behalf of the participants. The first-round matchups were as follows: Trae Young vs. Chauncey Billups Tamika Catchings vs. Mike Conley Zach LaVine vs. Paul Pierce
It did not take long for a head-turning result. It appeared as if Young, who is tied for third in the league in scoring this season, was going to cruise to victory against Billups when he gave the retired NBA champion three letters out of the gate with a combination of shots that included a behind-the-backboard attempt and a left-handed free throw. However, the five-time All-Star did back back and came roaring back, tying the score with a banked three from the top of the key and taking the lead with a one-handed underhand free throw. Mr. Big Shot went back to the well and eliminated Young with another banked triple from the top of the key.
If I’m gonna lose, I’m gonna have to lose to a Legend 🤷🏽♂️ and a mentor of mine✊🏽 Good Game … but believe me, we running it back next time I come visit you in Denver @ 1MrBigShot Deal? 💯🤣 #ImReadyToPlayForealAgain
Conley put the current players on the board with an easy win over Tamika Catchings. Although he arguably had an unfair advantage playing on an indoor hoop when catchings was outside in windy Indianapolis, he unleashed an array of corner three-pointers and weak-hand shots to clinch the victory. His most impressive shot was a weak-hand, behind-the-backboard layup that barely moved the net.
Catchings at least gave Conley a letter, which is more than Paul Pierce can say about his matchup with LaVine. While LaVine couldn’t dunk, he found a loophole of sorts with a handful of layups that the retired Pierce — who was playing in the rain — could not match. LaVine touched the backboard on one side and reversed it in from from the other side on one layup and then dropped the ball in from above the rim with his left hand on another. Just for good measure, he drilled a shot from out of bounds to give Pierce the final letter.
Quigley kept the Chicago momentum rolling following LaVine’s win with an impressive showing against Chris Paul. The backboard was the Chicago Sky sharpshooter’s friend, as she mixed in a number of bank shots and built a quick 4-1 lead in letters. She even banked one in while sitting on the ground, despite pleas to the contrary from the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard:
Paul busted out the trick shots to stay alive With a one-legged turnaround attempt, one from behind the backboard and a one-handed / one-legged free throw. However, Quigley made the behind-the-backboard shot and free throw before she eliminated him with a banked free throw of her own. The semifinals and finals both air on Thursday, starting at 9 pm ET.