The stage is set for Sunday’s (all times AEDT) NBA in-season tournament finale between the Indiana Pacers and LA Lakers.
In Friday’s opening semifinal in Las Vegas, Tyrese Haliburton announced himself as a true NBA superstar under the bright lights.
Haliburton dropped 27 points with 15 assists and seven rebounds – and no turnovers – to see the Indiana Pacers defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 128-119 and advance to the season tournament championship game.
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The Pacers led by 12 at halftime before Milwaukee stormed back into the game in the second half to set up a close, back-and-forth final quarter.
That was until Haliburton’s layup extended Indiana’s lead to five points with 1:33 on the clock before the superstar guard iced the win with a huge putback three-pointer with 49, 1 seconds to play.
After hitting the deciding three points, Haliburton even took a cheeky dig at Damian Lillard, staging the “Dame Time” celebration and saying, “You’ll know what time it is.” »
Over his last two games, Haliburton has now recorded 53 points and 28 assists without a single turnover, an extraordinary feat as the Pacers beat the Celtics and Bucks – arguably the top two teams in the Eastern Conference – in road to the In-season tournament championship decider.
“Tyrese Haliburton is putting the basketball world on notice that he’s here,” NBA legend Reggie Miller said on the ESPN telecast.
Elsewhere, Myles Turner had 26 points with 10 rebounds and three blocks and Rick Carlisle’s side improved to 12-8 overall.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (37 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) led the way for the Bucks now 16-7 and Damien Lillard scored 24 points, four triples, seven rebounds and seven assists.
In the final game, the Lakers quickly defeated the New Orleans Pelicans in a dominant 133-89 domination behind a masterful performance from LeBron James to book their spot in the in-season tournament finals.
James had 30 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line with five rebounds and eight assists in just 23 minutes, while Anthony Davis added 16 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and two blocks as LA won its third straight game to improve to 14-9 on the season.
According to StatMuse, James became the first player in NBA history to score more than 30 points, more than five rebounds and more than five assists in 23 minutes or less.
After a close first quarter, the Lakers exploded with a 38-24 second term and didn’t look back to open a double-digit lead before the main break.
Darvin Ham’s team continued to advance in the third quarter with an even more impressive 43-17 to put the scoreboard out of reach by a margin of almost 40 points as both coaches emptied their benches early .
Trey Murphy’s 14 points led the Pelicans in an unforgettable performance for Willie Green’s squad as its season tournament ended in ugly fashion and it fell to 12-11 overall.
Sunday’s game between the Pacers and Lakers will not count toward the regular season.
PACERS 128 $119
PELICANS 89 LAKES 133