Along with the 2K tournament, the NBA found another way to try and garner the interest during its hiatus. They announced a HORSE tournament where athletes would be live streaming from courts or hoops in their houses. The pool of contestants included both current and former players from both the WNBA and the NBA itself. Once again, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine was one of those tabbed to participate.
LaVine was matched up against former Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce in the first round. With ESPN’s Mark Jones as the host, the two set to battle it out in their outdoor courts with Pierce being in LA and LaVine filming from his house near Seattle. Although it wasn’t the best TV quality (which can be forgiven due to the challenges of streaming live videos off your phone), LaVine certainly stepped up to the plate during this one. After losing in the first round of the 2K tournament to DeAndre Ayton, LaVine rebounded with a sweeping victory over Pierce in HORSE.
Despite Pierce winning the coin toss, it was LaVine who got the upper hand early. He made a trick shot, going through his legs for a right-handed layup while only standing on his left foot. Complex and unique HORSE shots were a common theme for LaVine as the game went on. Pierce went too strong off the glass and earned himself his first letter. After both of them hitting a bank shot from the right-wing, LaVine got Pierce again on a shot from the right corner.
LaVine used his athleticism to his advantage for the third letter. Going from the right-hand side of the lane, he tapped the ball off the backboard with his left hand and finished a reverse layup with his right. Pierce missed his attempt and suddenly it was a three-letter lead for LaVine.
Pierce was able to keep the deficit from growing as he matched LaVine by shooting a shot off the side of the backboard, catching it back and making the jumper. LaVine kept the pressure by banking in a three after Pierce made his initial attempt.
We saw our first instance of replay on the next shot challenge as LaVine proposed to shoot a lefty layup but with it only hitting the net. After seeing LaVine’s attempt, which he made, Pierce asked to see the video of the layup again and the review showed a clean make.
Pierce then missed his attempt and he was on the ropes, down 4-0.
With only one letter left, LaVine splashed a deep three from the left wing and it was up to Pierce to keep the game alive. His attempt clanked off the rim and victory was sealed for LaVine. In all, it was a convincing win as LaVine didn't even earn a single letter in the game.
LaVine now advances to the semi-finals to face off against Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky. She earned her place in the next round by defeating Chris Paul. It’s going to be an All-Chicago battle for the right to go to the final. With Quigley being one of the best shooters in basketball and LaVine’s tough shot-making ability, this is sure to be an exciting matchup.
The semi-finals will be tomorrow at 8 PM Central Time on ESPN.