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Tyrese Haliburton closes in OT, carries Pacers to 30th win of the season: Running Thoughts
Haliburton outscored the Rockets in overtime, tallying 12 of his 29 points. And he finished with a career-high 19 assists in a nine-point win.
Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 134-125 overtime win over the Houston Rockets Thursday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Aaron Nesmith, after sitting out the past two games with left hip soreness, is back and in the starting lineup.
The Rockets are without Kevin Porter Jr. due to a left thigh contusion. They’re the youngest team in the league — an average age of 23.58 at the start of the season — have only 15 wins, and are the top offensive rebounding team.
The next three games are a real opportunity for the Pacers to get wins and work on some things. They play the Rockets and then the Pistons twice — the two worst teams in the league.
Draft note: Rockets losses are a good thing for the Pacers. If they land pick 31 or 32 in the draft, it then belongs to the Pacers.
Rev It Up!: Rapper 50 Cent, who also owns Sire Spirits — a liquor brand with cognac and champagne — and has a partnership deal with the team.
Before the game, he took photos with Tyrese Haliburton and coach Rick Carlisle on the floor and was invited back to the locker room.
This one is off to a blistering start. A combined 17 points in the first 3 minutes.
6:35: Andrew Nembhard to the bench with two fouls, replaced by T.J. McConnell.
4:30: Pacers are productive early, opening up a double-digit lead by shooting 73% and making five of their first eight 3s. They’ve assisted on nine of their first 11 field goals.
3:18: McConnell drills a corner 3 for the Pacers’ sixth as they’ve used a 20-4 run to double-up the Rockets, up 34-17. Wow.
2:35: Despite the lead, Carlisle is using all of this to be a teaching point. He’s called a timeout, including one here because they were slow to get back defensively and gave up a layup on a second-chance opportunity. As I wrote last week, attention to details has to be there.
1:30: Ruh roh. Bennedict Mathurin goes down holding his right ankle. Attacking from the left side of the floor, he beat his man and then Usman Garuba stepped up to help. Mathurin’s right ankle rolls to the outside and then he immediately grabbed the ankle. Veterans George Hill and James Johnson carried him off the court and back to the locker room to be observed by associate head athletic trainer Carl Eaton & team doctors.
The Pacers shot 58%, did a good job of running in transition and built their lead up to 11, 38-27, after 1. The one concerning area is second-chance points: 11-3 Rockets.
The Pacers have won the first quarter in three of their last four games and they’re +12 in the last seven games. That’s good progress.
5:52: Pacers have grown their lead to 17. With Mathurin out of the game, more minutes can be expected for Chris Duarte.
2:42: Kenyon Martin Jr. rips through for a big slam, slicing their deficit to 10 via a 10-2 Rockets spurt.
With a favorable matchup, going against a very young team, Myles Turner is taking advantage. Coming off a foul-filled game against Joel Embiid and the 76ers, he’s scored 16 first-half points.
Once up by 18 points, the Pacers’ lead was slashed to six at the break, 64-58. It was a 20-6 Rockets run over the final five minutes of the half. They scored 26 of their 31 points in the quarter inside the paint and outrebounded the Pacers by seven. Rebounding was a big priority for the Pacers entering the game.
Carlisle postgame: “I thought the key to the game was the second quarter, where we lost an 18-point lead. We just pissed it away. Some loose offense in the second quarter got them going and led to some transition and rim-attack opportunities. Got them into the bonus, got them to the free throw line and got them believing.”
7:21: Jabari Smith Jr., the No. 3 overall pick in 2022, living at the free throw line to start the half, making seven of eight attempts. He’s already up to 20 points in 25 minutes.
Haliburton postgame: “They went to the free throw line for like every play in the third quarter; we didn’t get any stops it felt like in the third quarter, second half.”
3:51: Isaiah Jackson began the game as the backup center, but now Carlisle is turning to Jalen Smith. This isn’t easy for these two young bigs. Inconsistent minutes, in one game and sitting another. Predictability is a big thing, helping to calm a player and allow for them to create a routine.
Carlisle: “Once again, Jalen Smith kept himself very much ready and he came in and played a pivotal role. I’ve been real impressed with him.”
I want to see more from the Pacers. They haven’t trailed in this one, but their lead has continued to hang around six. This is not a good Rockets team and they’re playing down to the competition.
Turner: “I think you have a tendency to relax when you play teams like this. It’s second nature that comes with that. But when you step in between the lines, a lot of that goes out the window. You just go out there and compete and hoop. There’s no surprises in this league.”
Haliburton: “You got to respect everybody at the end of the day, we’re all NBA players. It doesn’t matter records. They’ve got a lot of young, up-and-coming guys in this league. Eventually they’ll get it to click, but their record I don’t think is a reflection of the talent over there.”
Haliburton played the entire quarter and had nine points, plus six assists. With 16 dimes already, he needs two more for a new career-high. Pacers up 98-91 after 3.
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10:31: Jordan Nwora continues his hot shooting, with 18 points in 21 minutes. Including a pair of 3s to open the final quarter. It’s his sixth straight game in double figures.
Carlisle: “Things started clicking when he got here and got an elevated opportunity in a different situation. He does some very unique things for a guy that plays the 4 position.”
6:45: McConnell throws it away, then gets swatted at the rim on the next possession. Haliburton and Turner get up off the bench, set to re-enter.
4:54: Jalen Green and Smith Jr. sink consecutive 3-pointers and it’s just a one-point game. Rockets, on a 10-2 spurt, have 19 offensive rebounds to the Pacers’ six.
4:10: Green completes an and-1, giving the Rockets their first lead tonight. (Though it was short-lived.)
2:33: Rockets with three straight empty possessions — two turnovers, then a missed 3-pointer — but the Pacers didn’t take advantage.
1:39: Turner fouls out, for the second game in a row, with 1:39 to play. In a one-possession game.
:15: Haliburton makes two free throws to put them up three. Now they need to get a stop. Rockets burned eight seconds, then called timeout.
:4.0: Nesmith alerted the officials before the end of the timeout about something, likely that they may foul. Carlisle is #TeamFoulUp3. But then Smith Jr. drilled a turnaround 3 on the right arc to even the game at 115.
Haliburton: “The way this league works, you let a team hang around forever, eventually it’s going to come back to bite you. Jabari hits that fadeaway, amazingly tough shot, but we shouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with.”
The Pacers got the last say and used their final timeout to both discuss and advance the ball. Haliburton gets the ball at the top of the arc, going full steam toward the basket. He collided with Jae’Sean Tate and Smith Jr, but the officials didn’t want to decide the game.
Haliburton: “Foul or not, I don’t really know. I probably lost the ball. Jae’Sean did say he fouled me though.”
Carlisle: “I haven’t looked at it yet, but what I heard was there was some pretty significant contact and a foul could’ve been called.”
1:21: Haliburton doing what stars do, carrying the team in overtime. He’s scored their last seven points and assisted on two other baskets. And after missing his first seven 3-pointers, he broke through and made one. Rockets called timeout.
Haliburton: “I was due to make one 3 today so once that went in, that kind of got me going and guys were just trusting me. It’s a big thing here. My teammates, guys that aren’t playing, coaches, front office — they trust me to close games. So it gives me confidence to go out there, keep trucking in trying to get one to fall and win the game.”
Before his injury on Jan. 11, Haliburton had helped the Pacers improve significantly in clutch time. Then without him, it dropped off significantly. These moments aren’t for all, but he loves it.
Haliburton: “It ain’t pressure, it’s just basketball. It’s understanding that guys expect me to make plays, that’s what I’m here for. The keys to close games is ran through me; coach gives me a lot of freedom to run what I want and make shots, get guys the ball and make plays.”
The Pacers captured their 30th win of the season, holding off the Rockets in overtime 134-125. Haliburton scored 12 in OT to the Rockets’ 10.
They were much more effective in OT (five minutes) than in the fourth (12 minutes): seven FGs, 19 points to six FGs and 17 points.
The Pacers, now 30-37, got their first OT win this season after entering the game 0-2.
Carlisle: “(Haliburton) took over the game in the overtime. He certainly has demonstrated that that is what he’s about. He loves those moments very much the way Reggie Miller loved those moments. He doesn’t get discouraged if some things during the game don’t go exactly his way. He keeps playing and he stays aggressive and he has great confidence. So that gives the team great confidence. He was tremendous, just amazing in the overtime.”
Haliburton nearly had a 30 & 20 game, finishing with 29 points and a career-high 19 assists.
Haliburton: “Just trying to share the wealth, get guys the ball and play right. I will blame Buddy for not having 20. We’ll get there eventually.”
Turner: “Just being aggressive. He’s just a confident player, man. We all have a lot of belief in him. In those moments and whatnot, he wants to be the one to take the shot and he’s proven night in and night out that he can do that. I’m just happy that we got the win.”
Eight Pacers reached double figures, including 21 from Turner before he fouled out, 18 from Nwora and 13 from McConnell.
Turner: “I was impressed with our poise, especially into the overtime period. When Tyrese is hot, we were in the game, got him the ball and just let him do what he does.”
The Pacers made 18 3s to the Rockets’ six (+36 points), but they yielded a season-high 82 points in the paint (-24) and were outscored 23-5 (-18) in second chance points. The Rockets grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and were +16 on the glass.
Smith Jr. shined in his first career game in Indy, piling up 30 points and 12 rebounds in 47 minutes.
Official attendance: 16,027. (Just six home games left this season.)
Up next: The Pacers are not practicing on Friday. They’re on the road for seven of their next eight games, beginning with two in a row — a weekend series — in Detroit on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET.