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Chauncey Billups, Mike Conley, Zach LaVine, Allie Quigley advance in NBA HORSE Challenge

The four semifinalists are much better shooters than the cameras that filmed them on Sunday night. We break down the results of the 2020 NBA HORSE Challenge.

Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls reacts to being called for a personal and technical foul in the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on February 29, 2020 in New York City. The New York Knicks defeated the Chicago Bulls 125-115. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

We’ll have to see the ratings for the NBA’s first HORSE competition in a long time, but State Farm is donating $200,000 to the charities of choice of the competitiors in this event. And they tried to do something to keep people entertained and at home. So let’s not make fun of the effort too much here.

But it’s also pretty likely you won’t see a lot of people clamoring for a repeat when this is over after Thursday night.

Let’s review who won what.

Chauncey Billups defeats Trae Young: H-O-R to H-O-R-S-E

Mr. Big Shot came through on his outdoor court in Denver, and despite being down early, he put five letters in a row on the Atlanta Hawks star to close it out. Billups won not only because of his nicer backyard setup, but also his internet was far superior to Young’s. It’s very possible Trae Young was filming his shots on a Motorola two-way pager.

Nothing against Young, as he seems like the future of the NBA. But we can’t ship in a 5G hotspot to Trae’s house in Norman, Oklahoma before being broadcast across the world??

Mike Conley defeats Tamika Catchings: H to H-O-R-S-E

Conley had an indoor gym for this, which made the challenge for a WNBA legend even more difficult. Besides being out of the league since 2016, Catchings was outside in her driveway in an Indianapolis suburb in what seemed like a windstorm, well, let’s go to the video from her backyard...

It didn’t look easy is all we’re saying. But it also didn’t help that Conley was making bombs with his right hand when he’s left-handed, and then his Mortal Kombat finisher was an up-and-under from behind the backboard that had to go over the top and fall in. Fatality.

Zach LaVine defeats Paul Pierce: No Letters to H-O-R-S-E

Paul Pierce is 42 years old. He’s refreshingly honest in his analysis work for ESPN on The Jump during the season. He looks like he’s enjoying his post-athlete life as much as anyone, and the big Boston Celtics logo in the middle of his backyard court shows how loyal he still is to that franchise.

But he got skunked by LaVine, who showed as much game as anyone in the competition. The former Slam Dunk Champion wasn’t allowed to flush it, but he forced some pretty athletic layups by tapping the ball on one side of the backboard and finishing on the other side of the rim. But his coup de grace was a 27-footer from the grass next to his backyard court. Pierce gave a similar shot a good effort, but it rimmed out for the loss.

Allie Quigley defeats Chris Paul: H-O-R to H-O-R-S-E

Of the 18 media members we polled before this competition, only three picked Quigley to knock off CP3 (including the winner #humblebrag). I have no idea how this happened, because going all the way back to her college days at DePaul, Allie Quigley has always been a four-limbed bucket.

It started with Chris Paul derisively mumbling about losing the coin flip (which is so on #brand I bet State Farm gave him a bonus), but then these two actually made some really fun shots. Paul stuck a free throw while holding one leg in a yoga pose, and having his other foot face the opposite way. Quigley went bank while sitting down from the pindown spot. It was the best battle of the competition, and the internet for both was pretty good!

But ultimately Chris Paul, despite being a favorite, lost in an NBA quarterfinals. Who could have seen that coming??

The bracket

As we head to Thursday, it’ll be Billups vs. Conley in a battle of guys that always win those most-respected player awards in blind surveys of their peers, and LaVine vs. Quigley with the best athlete remaining vs. the best shooter.

If the streaming technology improves by Thursday, this could be a lot fun. But if it doesn’t, just hold your breath and go back and watch it later. It’s brutal to see with the digitization coming in full force, and the players deserve better.