(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – Tyrese Haliburton delivers in crunch time to lead the Indiana Pacers (30-37) over the Houston Rockets (15-51) with a 134-125 victory.
The first twelve minutes of basketball for the Indiana Pacers could not have gone any better. Indiana shot 58% and made six threes’ while limiting the Rockets to 44% from the floor and just two threes. Myles Turner was the offense at the start after fouling out in the last game for Indiana. He scored ten points in the first quarter and was doing everything and anything that he wanted. Buddy Hield also provided eight points for Indiana, and Tyrese Haliburton registered seven assists while playing ten minutes. The largest lead for the Pacers in the quarter would be 17 when the score was 34-17 and then in the final seconds of the first quarter at 38-24. After twelve minutes, Indiana would lead Houston 38-27 after a triple from Josh Christopher. Houston’s top rookie in Jabari Smith Jr. led the team with seven points.
After a blitzkrieg start offensively for Indiana, they would settle down a little bit the following quarter. Coming into the game, the Pacers were the third best team in the NBA when it comes to second quarter scoring, but tonight was not their night. The Pacers would start the quarter off hot like the first quarter to extend their lead to a game high 18 points with 5:16 until halftime. The Rockets would then ratchet up the defensive intensity to force Indiana into turning the ball over, forcing up shots late in the shot clock, and taking them out of their offensive rhythm. They’d go on a 20-8 run to close the quarter and trailed by four points before Tyrese made a layup while the Rockets were getting back on defense to end the half at 64-58. Turner would lead all scorers at the break with 16 points and Smith Jr. led the Rockets in scoring with a dozen. Haliburton would have 10 assists at halftime, but only scored four points on 2/6 shooting. One key statistic that separated the two teams was that Indiana knocked down eight first half threes compared to just two for Houston.
Quarter number three was a little bit of mixed emotions for the Pacers because they hung up 34 points in the quarter, but they only extended their lead by one point because Houston scored 33. Smith Jr. was the offense for the Rockets in the quarter. He scored 13 points with seven of those coming from the charity stripe. It was a balancing scoring attack on the other hand for Indiana with seven of the nine players that saw action scoring. After going up by 13 with three minutes into the period, Houston slowly chipped away at their deficit to single digits after a multitude of small runs. After a handful of minutes, Indiana would find themselves leading by five points at 82-77. They’d be able to fend off any run that the Rockets tried making to lead 98-91 after thirty-six minutes of basketball.
During some portions of the season, the Pacers have had issues closing games in the fourth quarter. As a team, the Pacers scoring a whopping total of 17-points in the fourth quarter. After leading 106-95, the Rockets would go on a 14-1 run to take their first lead of the game at 109-108. Rick Carlisle would insert Haliburton back into the game and they’d quickly go back ahead by three. With 39-seconds remaining, Smith Jr. would go to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game but missed the front end of the two free throws. After a Haliburton miss, the Pacers got a defensive stop and force Houston to foul and send Haliburton to the free throw line where he converted two free throws. The man of the night for Houston in Jabari Smith Jr. drilled a three to tie the game at 115 with four seconds remaining. Tyrese would draw a lot of contact on the Pacers possession, but no fouled was called and they go to overtime.
The overtime period started a little slow for both team with each of them missing both of their first two shots. Andrew Nembhard jump started the scoring with a layup. Indiana would quickly go up five points, before Haliburton closed out the game. He scored the next twelve points for the Pacers and iced the game with a 28 foot three to make it 132-121. Pacers would win the game 134-125.
TOP PERFORMERS: Tyrese Haliburton (29p, 19a), Myles Turner (21p, 7b, 5r), Jordan Nwora (18p, 5r), Buddy Hield (17p, 6r), Jabari Smith Jr. (30p, 12r, 3a), Jalen Green (24p, 4a), and Kenyon Martin Jr. (23p). For tonight’s full box score, click here.
NOTES: Tyrese Haliburton’s 19 assists marked 3rd most assists in a game in franchise history and most since 2002, recorded his 31st double-double on the season and 61st for his career, and now has 46 assists to 6 turnovers this month. Myles Turner has now fouled out for consecutive games. Jabari Smith Jr. recorded a career high 30 points and notched his ninth double-double this season.
NEXT UP: Pacers begin a lengthy road trip where the Pacers are away from Gainbridge Fieldhouse for seven of the next eight games. They will play a pair of games in Detroit on Saturday and then Monday against the Pistons. Tip-off Saturday evening is slated from 7pm with the Kroger Pregame Show with Pay Boylan starting at 6:30pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan.
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