The first round of the NBA HORSE Challenge saw everything from a five-letter sweep to the tournament favorite being upset by an impressive comeback victory. Will the semifinals and finals be able to match the drama of the opening round?
NBA champion and Detroit Pistons legend Chauncey Billups will face Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley Jr., and two-time slam dunk champion and Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine will face two-time WNBA 3-point shootout champion and Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley. The semifinals and finals of the NBA HORSE Challenge take place Thursday (9 p.m. ET) on ESPN and streaming on the ESPN App.cheap nike nfl jerseys china
Mostly forgotten in Bryant’s history with Big D is the left-handed 3 he hit during the 2004-05 season in the fourth quarter of a comfortable Mavs win at Staples Center. It was so ridiculous that it got Dallas owner Mark Cuban out of his seat to applaud Bryant.
It was a mostly meaningless game. L.A. was already eliminated from postseason consideration. Dallas, featuring Dirk Nowitzki smack-dab in his prime, was still jostling with the San Antonio Spurs for the Southwest Division title but had already secured home court in the first round.
As the game was seemingly being salted away by the Mavs, Bryant chased a loose ball into the corner and corralled it with three seconds on the shot clock. Dallas guard Jason Terry, smartly, defended him by cutting off the wing, leaving Bryant precious little room to operate where the sideline meets the baseline.
Left with no other choice, Bryant, seeing that Terry wasn’t giving him an inch, pivoted away from him and launched what can best be described as a left-handed floater from 24 feet out that fell through the hoop and snapped the net.
The score brought the Lakers to within 11 with 3:59 remaining. Bryant went on to score or assist on 17 of L.A.’s final 20 points, making a game of it. The Lakers bounced back, trailing by four with one second left when Bryant was fouled on a 3-pointer. He drilled the first two freebies and intentionally missed the third, hoping to get an offensive putback to tie things up and force overtime, but the Mavs held on.nike nfl jerseys for cheap
But there are a few shots that carry Dude Perfect levels of impossibility and are unlikely to ever be replicated, even if tried intentionally. Trevor Booker’s shot — if we’re willing to call it that — against the Thunder in 2015 is one of those.
With two-tenths of a second on the shot clock late in the second quarter, the Jazz faced a futile situation. It was a side out, reducing the chances of a lob or tip play. By rule, there isn’t enough time to catch and shoot when under three-tenths. Gordon Hayward was inbounding, and it seemed likely he would toss it up and hope Rudy Gobert might get a hand on it. But Quin Snyder made a late substitution, right before referee Gary Zielinski handed the ball to Hayward. Against all sensible logic, out came Gobert and in came Trevor Booker. Snyder pointed and instructed Booker where to go. Booker nodded.
A down screen by Trey Burke on Booker’s man forced a switch, putting the smaller Russell Westbrook behind Booker. Booker flashed toward the right block and held up his hands, calling for the ball. Hayward bounced it to him. Booker’s back was to the basket. Westbrook stood idly by, knowing the play had no chance. Booker was standing the wrong way; there was no time. Booker set both hands under the ball and popped it over his head, like setting up a volleyball teammate for a spike. Nothing but net.
After the game, Booker confessed that all the nodding he was doing toward Snyder was an act. He didn’t know the play. He just went toward the rim for a lob, and after it wasn’t there, he made himself available for Hayward to get it into someone.