Tyrese Haliburton dazzles, dishes and leads in Pacers' win over Bulls
Haliburton scored 21 points, handed out a career-high 20 assists with 0 turnovers, and helped fuel a key 12-0 run to fend off the Bulls. All that despite a tight back.
The Pacers weren’t sure whether their All-Star point guard would be available Thursday until a few hours before tip-off.
Tyrese Haliburton’s lower back tightened up again Thursday and treatment throughout the day was critical.
“I was surprised that he played based on how he was presenting this morning,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after the Pacers’ 120-104 win over the Bulls.
The Pacers held morning shootaround at the United Center, something they do at road games but not at home, and Haliburton was admittedly struggling.
“The medical staff was amazing today,” he said during his on-court postgame interview on Bally Sports Indiana. “I couldn't even, like, walk this morning at shootaround. They saved me today and allowed me to come out and have this performance."
This performance, to quote Jim Nantz, was one for the ages (and record books):
21 points, a career-high 20 assists and 0 turnovers in 38 minutes.
And most importantly to Haliburton, in a Pacers win.
He became just the second NBA player in recorded history to have at least 20 points, 20 assists and 0 turnovers in a regular-season game — joining Chris Paul, who did it in 2016.
The only other Pacers in history with at least 20 points and 20 assists is Jalen Rose in 2001 against the Cavaliers, per StatMuse. Rose also needed an overtime session and played 44 minutes.
He had one more assist (20) than the Bulls had as a team (19).
He also hit six 3s and the Bulls had just seven.
It was his first game without committing a turnover since Dec. 7 when he did it in back-to-back tournament games earlier this month. And since the tournament finals in Las Vegas, he has been averaging four turnovers per game.
The Pacers’ NBA franchise record for assists in a game is owned by Jamaal Tinsley. He had 23 in 2001.
The Pacers led the Bulls by 25 points midway through the third quarter, and then the offense stalled. It wasn’t pretty. And the Bulls found success by playing a smaller lineup and staying in attack-mode rather than settling for shots. The Pacers finished 19 for 42 from range while the Bulls were just 7 for 27.
Turner had another good game against the Bulls, leading all scorers with 24 points, including 7 for 7 at the foul line. Obi Toppin pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds off the bench, to help offset the 16 had by Andre Drummond.
After the Pacers led 83-58, the Bulls went from down 25 to up three via a 35-7 run. There was an important Pacers timeout as emotions were high after mistakes piled up. Over those 10-plus minutes of game time, Indiana’s offense struggled and players tried to get it back singlehandedly.
Eventually, Haliburton did.