Inside the spectacular sequence that became the play of the Pacers' season
A steal, catch, pass, finish — and the many reactions. This four-second sequence had everything.
In a season filled with losses, false hope and a changing of the guard, there hasn’t been a lot for the team and Pacers fans alike to get excited about.
Sunday’s game had an early tip time, 3:30 p.m. ET against the Portland Trail Blazers, meant showcase the team to a younger audience. With over a dozen players sidelined between the two teams, there was a youth movement on the court as well. Some players who ordinarily do not get in played over 20 minutes.
And for a moment late in the second quarter, Gainbridge Fieldhouse erupted in cheers as the Pacers dazzled fans as well as each other.
It was a play that had everything.
Three players were involved in the steal, reception, pass, flush and mega reaction that brought fans to their feet and created memes on social media.
It started defensively, which was appropriate because that end has been emphasized by head coach Rick Carlisle all season, but especially in the last six weeks.
After Lance Stephenson stripped the ball away from CJ Elleby, Tyrese Haliburton reached down to pick it up at one end. He then launched a high-arcing pass — like he was throwing a fade route — across the mid-court line, about 60 feet, to Stephenson.
Don’t gloss over the catch, which was in traffic and more impressive than his next move. Without dribbling, he sent a nifty behind-the-back toss to Oshae Brissett, who took one power dribble with his left hand before a planned reverse-slam finish. (And he already has his next big dunk lined up.)
All that in just four seconds of game time.
The punctuation mark on the sequence was Brissett finished through contact, then making the free throw to complete the three-point play.
“Lance gave a great pass and I just had to show out,” he said with a big smile. “Lance is always really looking to get people going.”
Stephenson thrives off the home crowd and his energy is contagious.
The pass was one of Stephenson’s game-high 11 assists in the game. He didn’t even witness Brissett’s slam dunk. Instead, he immediately pointed toward the crowd in the east stands and then directly at assistant coach Jenny Boucek in celebration. (It’s unclear why.)
Stephenson wasn’t one of the three players made available postgame, but during an on-court interview with Bally Sports Indiana’s Jeremiah Johnson, he said, "I’m like ‘Why is everybody yelling?’ I seen the replay and I’m like ‘Oh my God, that was insane!’”