Kevin Durant Wins HORSE
Fortunately, after getting warmed up with a handful of boring corner threes and mid-range jumpers, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant and O.J. Mayo reached into their bag of tricks and broke out an array of shots that included everything from between-the-legs left-handed layups to loooong three-pointers from the first row of the grandstand behind the court.
Durant trailed the field for virtually the entire game, but Johnson was the first to be eliminated after air-balling a granny shot from the free-throw line. From there, Durant's competitive juices took over, as he nailed corner three after corner three to come from behind and knock Mayo out of the competition. That he took the contest so seriously at the end was sort of amusing -- just like when he scored 46 points in Friday's Rookie Challenge, he proved to be more interested in winning than goofing off for our amusement.
Was it the most entertaining event from start to finish? Not really; the best highlights were sandwiched between a slow start and a slightly boring finish. Is it worth doing again in the future? Absolutely, although I think one small tweak could make it much more entertaining.
For one, players were technically given 24 seconds for each shot, although time was never actually a factor since players were allowed only a single attempt. This is where I'd like to see the event depart from the traditional rules and give players as many attempts as they can squeeze in before the buzzer sounds.
It'd result in players taking more chances, especially with the long shots. If you recall, Chris Paul set a "world record" during All-Star weekend last year by sinking four halfcourt shots within a minute -- I like to think that players in a HORSE competition could sink at least one in 24 seconds. Plus, buzzer-beaters creat drama,
But all in all, it was a good start. As a few people mentioned during the live blog, Charles Barkley was missed -- his trash talk and needling might have convinced players not to play it safe -- but Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber were their usual entertaining selves. Let's just tweak this a little bit to make it even more fun next year.