With the sports world on hold, the public has resorted to a variety of things to fill the void: Video games, simulations of events that were supposed to happen in the coming days, weeks or months and just about anything else they could to get their mind off the reality we face today. But this weekend, 2K answered the call, hosting the first ever NBA x 2K crossover, letting real NBA players like Kevin Durant, Trae Young and Hassan Whiteside compete as their favorite teams in the hopes of winning $100,000 for the charity of their choice. The festivities kicked off Saturday night with KD facing off against the Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr. before wrapping up the first round Sunday with a matchup between DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond.
Game 1: Kevin Durant (Clippers) vs. Derrick Jones Jr. (Bucks)
From the tip it was pretty clear what the game plan was going to be for both sides — let the stars do the heavy lifting. Durant’s offense ran through Kawhi Leonard, while Giannis Antetokounmpo led the charge for Jones’ Bucks. The game script followed as such for the first three quarters, with Giannis’ 20 leading the Bucks to a 59-44 lead, but entering the fourth is where things took off.
While Giannis carried the team through three quarters, it was his teammate Khris Middleton who took over in the fourth. The All-Star took full advantage of the 2-3 zone KD was running, exploding for 14 points with four 3-pointers, including an 11-0 run by himself. At the final buzzer it was Jones Jr. walking away with a 78-62 win behind a combined 42 points from Giannis and Middleton, while Kawhi and Paul George combined for 38 in the loss.
Game 2: Deandre Ayton (Rockets) vs. Zach Lavine (Heat)
After watching this matchup, I think it’s safe to say both of these guys should stick to the NBA. Neither player chose the Bucks or Lakers, but you would think the sheer talent that exists on either side would be enough to keep the game intense. But all the step-backs in the world couldn’t save this one, as teams entered the locker room at halftime with Ayton up 26-24, with a combined 50 missed shots between the two sides.
Finally, after enough bricks to build a house in the first, it was Russell Westbrook leading the way late, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the second half to shut the door and earn Ayton the 57-41 win.
James Harden chipped in 18 points of his own (none from the free throw line!), and Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 13, but he was no match for the Rockets’ dynamic backcourt.
Game 3: Harrison Barnes (Raptors) vs. Trae Young (Bucks)
If I could describe this game in one word, it would be turnovers. Harrison Barnes might have put on the worst 2K showing in history, and it was never even close.
Five straight turnovers to open the game saw Barnes down 10-0 to Young’s Bucks almost immediately, and it only got worse from there, as another 12-0 run late found Young up 25-11 after one. From there, Young’s lead slowly grew over the next two quarters before he absolutely blew Barnes out of the water in the fourth behind 14 points from Pat Connaughton.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, Young had gotten his team to triple digits (in six-minute quarters) and won in a rout, 101-59. Giannis once again led the way for the Bucks with a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double, while Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 13 points in the losing effort.
Game 4: Patrick Beverly (Bucks) vs. Hassan Whiteside (Lakers)
After having to sit through that last game, this matchup between two of the biggest trash-talkers in the league was exactly what we needed to bring the energy back.
From the tip I was really surprised to hear Whiteside talking all the trash while Beverly sat in intense silence, but we all knew it was only a matter of time before Pat joined in, and once he started he could not be stopped.
Halfway through the second quarter Beverly got his lead to 10, and like flood gates opening, he didn’t stop talking until the final buzzer sounded. And just like on the court, once Pat got into his zone and started talking, Whiteside’s play fell apart.
Beverly walked away with an 84-54 win with the Bucks led by Giannis’ 21 points and a solid team effort all-around. Despite the final score not being close, this was by far the most entertaining game of the opening round, and the banter between the two will be unmatched for the rest of the tourney.
Game 5: Domantas Sabonis (Pacers) vs. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
As this game was ending, Sabonis admitted that the first time he played 2K was warming up for the tournament earlier that day. That should pretty much tell you how this game went.
In a matchup where only two 3-pointers were made all day, it was surprisingly close throughout. But a double-digit lead heading into the fourth proved too much for Sabonis to overcome, as Harrell and the Clippers walked away with a 73-51 win on the back of 34 combined points from Kawhi and Paul George. Both players also cracked double digits with themselves, Harrell scoring 11 while Sabonis chipped in 10 of his own for the Pacers.
This was the first game where both players chose their own teams, making it incredibly entertaining to watch them try and play as themselves and (as 2K does) miss open jumpers and layups and lose their minds. So, although the competition might have lacked a little bit, the sportsmanship and jokes between the two made this a great game to watch.
Game 6: Donavan Mitchell (Nets) vs. Rui Hachimura (Lakers)
Throughout the tournament, all the fans really could’ve hoped for was to see an intense, back and forth game that had both players leaning forward in their chairs giving it their all. And that is exactly what this matchup delivered.
After one, Hachimura led by two. At halftime, Hachimura led by four behind 29 combined points from LeBron and Anthony Davis. A quiet third quarter to give the starters saw Mitchell cut the lead to just two heading into the final quarter. And things only got more intense from here.
Four lead changes, great defense and even better offense headlined the fourth, but in the end AD and LeBron proved too much to handle, leading Hachimura to a 74-71 victory. The stars came out to play in this one both in real life and in the game, as LeBron and Davis combined for 44 points while Brooklyn’s duo of KD and Kyrie Irving put up a combined 53 in the loss.
Games like this were few and far in between during the opening round of this tourney, and after the gritty win, I’ve got my money on Hachimura to take home the whole thing.
Game 7: Devin Booker (Bucks) vs. Michael Porter Jr. (Lakers)
If there was one thing to be taken away from this tournament, it’s that Giannis Antetokounmpo is a walking cheat code. He was on the winning side for both games the Bucks were used, and Booker was hopeful to keep the streak alive as one of the early favorites to win the tourney. But there’s one facet of this game that no one expected.
Yes, Giannis and the Bucks found yet another victory, this time winning 85-75, moving them to 3-0 in the tournament. Yes, AD and LeBron scored a combined 25 to account for one-third of the Lakers’ points. Yes, Giannis put up 20 points of his own with a near triple double. All expected, right? But what nobody saw coming was Brook Lopez.
The big man aptly nicknamed “Splash Mountain,” did just that, pouring in a game-high 24 points including six 3s. Rather than Giannis, it was Lopez who Booker turned to in times of need, and it seemed whenever things got close in the game, he was there to knock down another big triple.
Next up for Booker is a matchup against Hachimura in the quarterfinals, in what should be another tightly contested matchup.
Game 8: Andre Drummond (Lakers) vs. DeMarcus Cousins (Nets)
The last game of round one. A tough matchup between Boogie, who in his prime was the best big in the league, and Andre Drummond, the ever-improving center who gets huge brownie points from me since he is a UConn grad. And after back-to-back nail biters, this game had insanity written all over it. So, no one could have expected Drummond to sweep the floor with Cousins in a 101-49 rout.
The game was close for the first half when Cousins’ shots were falling, but a monstrous second half including a 31-0 run (yes, you read that right), in the fourth sealed the deal in the biggest victory of the first round. But that’s how the game goes sometimes, and this time around Boogie just couldn’t buy a shot while Drummond ran circles around him.
LeBron led the way with 26, but unsuspecting performances from Alex Caruso and Kentavious-Caldwell Pope combining for 31 tells the story of just how bad Cousins’ luck was in this one. Though it may not have been the way people expected, the opening round definitely ended in dramatic fashion and should have the fans psyched for the quarterfinals.
The tourney will continue Tuesday with the quarterfinal matchups before the semis and finals take place this weekend. I seriously recommend any sports fans watch this stuff, if not for the actual game, then at least to hear the banter between players. It’s as entertaining as it gets these days.