durant.horse.winner.jpg
Kevin Durant is the NBA's H.O.R.S.E. champion for the second straight year.
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

Cool-hand Durant repeats in H.O.R.S.E. competition

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Feb 13 2010 11:03PM

DALLAS -- In the end, it just wasn't a fair fight.

Due to a time restriction, the second annual H.O.R.S.E. presented by Geico competition turned into a 3-point shootout between Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Boston's Rajon Rondo. And that's about as fair a competition as a 100-meter dash between Usain Bolt and Charles Barkley.

With the three competitors -- Durant, Rondo and Omri Casspi -- missing too many shots early on (there were four different runs of five straight misses), only Casspi had been eliminated when the TNT broadcast got down to the last few minutes. Both Durant and Rondo had just "H-O" at the time, so they traded 3-point attempts from the top of the key until one of them missed three times.

Rondo, a career 26-percent shooter from 3-point range, hung in for longer than anyone expected. After he missed two of his first three attempts from the top, he made eight straight to avoid elimination. But he simply couldn't top Durant, who connected on 11 of his 12 jumpers from the top to defend his H.O.R.S.E title.

"KD kept making shot after shot after shot," Rondo said afterward. "That's what he does."

"Once it left my hand, it felt good. I left my release up there," Durant, a career 37-percent shooter from downtown, said. "I felt like I was practicing again."

The contest followed a familiar script for Durant, who toyed with Joe Johnson and O.J. Mayo in last year's competition before eliminating them with straight long-range jumpers. The only difference was the trophy. This year, Durant was awarded with a shiny crystal trophy, a vast improvement over the plastic horse he was given a year ago in Phoenix.

"It's pretty," Durant noted.

The contest opened with each competitor attempting a backward, between-the-legs shot which was submitted by a fan via video through NBA.com. But none of them could connect and all were saddled with "H" before a shot was made.

Durant handed both Casspi and Rondo "O" in the next two rounds by connecting on a 28-footer from the right wing (which Rondo hit but Casspi didn't) and an over-the-backboard, Larry Bird special (which Rondo couldn't make). More trick shots were attempted over the next several rounds, but few connected, and the competition slowed after that.

Durant picked up "O" when he couldn't match a through-the-legs reverse by Casspi. But the Sacramento rookie never found his shooting stroke and picked up "R", "S" and "E" on straight jumpers. Rondo, on the other hand, connected on 14 threes total, which is two more than he's hit all season.

"I just shot it with confidence and made a couple tonight," he said.

He hit more than a couple. But still came up a couple short.

History

2009: Durant continues red-hot weekend with H.O.R.S.E win
Just a day after winning MVP in the T-Mobile Rookie Challence, Kevin Durant pulled off a rousing comeback to win the first first H.O.R.S.E competition (sponsored by GEICO) at the NBA All-Star Block Party, defeating O.J. Mayo and Joe Johnson.

Durant got off to a slow start, 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. 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 with a granny-style free throw, Durant eliminated Mayo with a barrage of 3-pointers.

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