By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Feb 14 2009 9:02PM
PHOENIX -- Kevin Durant, who already was having a pretty good weekend, pulled off a rousing comeback to win the first H-O-R-S-E competition (sponsored by GEICO) at the NBA All-Star Block Party on Saturday.
Durant got off to a slow start in the competition, getting a G-E-I before either of his fellow competitors had a letter. He had G-E-I-C before O.J. Mayo picked up a G.
But Durant, who less than 24 hours earlier had scored a record 46 points to earn MVP honors at the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, began to heat up midway through the event, while Mayo and the third competitor, Joe Johnson, cooled off.
Durant probably would have been eliminated if Johnson had been able to convert one of his spinning layups. But Durant survived, and after Mayo eliminated Johnson [in photo above] with a granny-style free throw, Durant eliminated Mayo with a barrage of 3-pointers.
Johnson gave Durant his first two letters with some classic H-O-R-S-E trick shots -- a through-the-legs lefty layup and a backward 12-footer -- that the Thunder forward couldn't come close to matching. He gave him a third letter on a 3-pointer from the corner. But Mayo provided the first real highlight, swishing one from the first row of the stands at the outdoor court, about 30 feet from the hoop. Johnson's attempt from the same spot fell way short.
Durant got himself going with some nifty shots of his own, the first a Dwight Howard-esque layup, tossing the ball off the back of the backboard, catching it in midair and laying it in with his left hand. Mayo was able to convert the same shot, but Johnson couldn't. A few shots later, Durant hit one from the far right corner of the court, behind a table that was sitting about 35 feet from the basket.
Durant, who admitted to being nervous throughout the competition, said he had no shame in winning down the stretch with standard jumpers rather than trick shots.
"It was kind of like the All-Star Game," he said. "We played around in the first half, and in the second half, we got serious."
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