With the NBA season on an indefinite hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, a handful of the league’s players provided some live entertainment Friday night.
The 16-player NBA 2K Players Tournament opened with top seed Kevin Durant bounced by No. 16 seed Derrick Jones Jr.
Players are seeded by their overall rating in the NBA 2K20 title, then by tenure in the league.
Durant, the injured Brooklyn Nets star who has a 96 rating, chose the Los Angeles Clippers as his team but said he was let down by his defense in the lopsided loss to Jones (78 rating). The Miami Heat forward, who was the NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner in February, used the Milwaukee Bucks in his 78-62 victory.
Jones got 22 points from Khris Middleton and 20 from Giannis Antetokounmpo in the virtual game televised by ESPN.
Players in the tournament are allowed a pool of eight teams they can choose from during the tournament, but each team can be used by that player just once. Jones advances to the quarterfinals, but he cannot play as Milwaukee again.
Jones and Durant had little to say during their matchup, but Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine and Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton kept the chatter lively in what was a two-point game at halftime. The 7-vs.-10 matchup was a meeting between to 85-rated players.
Ayton kept the ball in the hands of Russell Westbrook while utilizing the “small ball” Houston Rockets. LaVine went with the Heat, starting the game with a 3-pointer from Duncan Robinson.
Ayton is known for his 2K prowess — he said during the game he’s been playing since NBA 2K09 came out. LaVine, who admitted to being a newbie, trailed by five entering the fourth quarter. He missed a barrage of 3-point tries in the third, and the wheels fell off fully in the fourth.
“You moving too fast,” Ayton jabbed as his lead crept higher en route to a 57-41 win.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, playing as the Bucks, obliterated Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, playing as the Toronto Raptors, 101-59. Young, the event’s second seed with a 90 NBA 2K20 rating, advances to a quarterfinal matchup with Ayton.
In the final game of the night, Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, using the Bucks, produced an 84-54 rout of Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside, playing as the Los Angeles Lakers. Beverley is seeded 14th with a 78 rating.
The first round continues Sunday with the last four games, all to air live on ESPN2:
–No. 8 Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers center) vs. No. 9 Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers forward)
–No. 4 Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz guard) vs. Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards forward)
–No. 5 Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns guard) vs. No. 12 Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets forward)
–No. 6 Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers center) vs. No. 11 DeMarcus Cousins (free agent center)
The quarterfinals are scheduled for Tuesday night on ESPN2, and the semifinals and final will air April 11 on ESPN. The champion will get $100,000 to donate to the coronavirus-relief charity of his choice.
All games are available live on the NBA or NBA 2K Twitter, Twitch, YouTube and Facebook channels.
–Field Level Media