Former Piston Chauncey Billups upsets Hawks' Trae Young in HORSE Challenge, advances to semifinals

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

The NBA’s HORSE Challenge is something of a low-tech filler for the sports void, as most of the country is under Stay-at-Home orders because of COVID-19. Each participant was isolated and played from socially distant areas: Billups from his home in Colorado and Young at his house in Oklahoma.  

Former Pistons player Chauncey Billups defeated Hawks' Trae Young in the NBA's HORSE Challenge on Sunday.

In some respect, Pistons icon Chauncey Billups could have been seen as a sacrificial lamb. Billups was one of two former NBA players in the eight-person field and was matched in the first round against Atlanta Hawks All-Star Trae Young, who was considered the betting favorite.

After a slow start, Billups pulled the upset, advancing to Thursday’s semifinals against Mike Conley Jr.

“Like in 04, I was a huge underdog,” Billups said via text message. “It felt good to once again surprise people.”

Billups, 43, was nearing elimination, with H-O-R after Young was making almost all of his shots, including left-handed free throws and 3-pointers from the top of the key.

The tide turned when Billups made a one-dribble 3-pointer from his right leg. Billups followed with a long 3-pointer with both feet out of bounds and then added a bank-shot 3-pointer from the top of the key.

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That evened the game, and as the televised matchup went to a commercial break, Billups lamented on ESPN: “I’m old…I don’t need any breaks.”

Billups completed the comeback, making a free throw underhanded — which Young missed — and clinched it on another banked 3-pointer from the top of the key.

“That’s the way to respect your elders,” Billups joked after the final shot.

Young, 21, was the odds-on favorite to win according to Las Vegas sportsbooks. He was fourth in the league in scoring this season, at 29.6 points per game. He’s known for his long 3-pointers and crafty shots.

Billups was better Sunday.

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“I tried the strategy of starting out close and he got it going so I didn’t want to risk a long 3 today,” Young said on ESPN. “It happens. Chauncey brought the wind over here.”

The semifinals and finals will be televised Thursday night on ESPN.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard