Buddy Hield misses game-winner, but states his case to start
Hield has been a team player to begin the season, first off the bench and now in the starting lineup. He scored a season-high 31 points in a one-point loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield were running on fumes, logging over 60 minutes of game action 24 hours.
The Pacers’ starting backcourt for the second straight game combined for nearly half their points, 12 of their 18 3-pointers, and were so close to teaming up for a game-winner at the buzzer.
Down by one with 8.2 seconds left, Haliburton pushed the ball up the floor after Gary Trent Jr. missed a pair of foul shots. The Raptors, predictably, sent help and were not going to let Haliburton beat them with another long-distance shot.
Haliburton made the right play and fired a pass to Hield, who was left open straight on from the hoop. He launched an uncontested shot from 28 feet and it was too strong, rattling in and out.
The Pacers (8-6) were outscored 16-8 over the final four minutes, outlasted by the Raptors 132-131.
Both teams were on short rest after playing road in-season tournament games on Tuesday — the Pacers won in Atlanta and the Raptors lost in Orlando — which means depth is important, right? The Pacers were shorthanded, without two of their top defenders in Aaron Nesmith (right wrist) and Andrew Nembhard (sore lower back), and the depth they’ve been praised for didn’t step up.
The Pacers are 7-1 this season when six or more players reach double figures; all five starters did in this one, but the team didn’t get a big contribution off the bench. The four reserves were outscored and held to a season-low 20 points.
Haliburton continued to his hot start to the young season, piling up 33 points and 16 rebounds. It was surprising that the Raptors didn’t do more to disrupt and keep him from igniting the offense as much, like they did last season. But Nick Nurse is gone and it’s an entirely new coaching staff.
Haliburton showed a lot of heart with his performance after the demands and pressure of last night’s tournament win. He shot 54% and finished with at least 33 points and 15 assists for the third time in four games.
The play of Hield, his best friend, shined through as well. Because this is their fourth season together, their synergy only continues to improve. They know where each other will be and almost always are on the same wavelength.
“We know each other like the back of our hand,” Haliburton has said many times.
Since making nine 3s over a five-game stretch, Hield has now made six and seven 3s in the last two games, respectively. Of course he desperately wanted one more, the game-winner.
It was an open shot, in rhythm and within his range. He’ll knock that down 60% of the time.
“It’s just him trusting what he does and his work,” Haliburton said of Hield earlier this season. “That guy works his tail off every night and he has for whatever year this year — seven, eight, hundred…”
Hield finished with a season-high 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including 7 of 12 from deep. His passing has also improved. He dished out five assists, which matched his season-high.