The Indiana Pacers entertain fans with their sprinter-like tempo and historic scoring pace.
But they’re heading to Las Vegas because of their defense.
After forcing seven turnovers in a game-changing third quarter and 18 overall in Tuesday’s 122-112 victory that eliminated title contending Boston from the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton took a moment to put the spotlight on something that once seemed unthinkable.
“Our defense was there? Could you tell?” he joked. “We wanted to be in this situation all year and here we are. And it’s not just about being here, it’s about winning. So we’re excited to go to Vegas and play some more defense.”
It’s not that the league’s worst-ranked scoring defense suddenly found a magical solution.
But when the Pacers needed stops, they threw a wrinkle at Boston in the second half and managed to hold one of the league’s top teams scoreless for 86 of the final 117 seconds — long enough for Indiana to break a 105-105 tie with nine straight points.
“We just changed some things schematically on defense there. Jayson [Tatum] was doing a good job of attacking me in the first half, so we did a good job of changing it up a little bit and figuring it out defensively,” Haliburton said. “We got a couple of stops and nobody wants to run with us when we’re getting stops.”
The Pacers played so well, they were serenaded with the chant of “De-fense! De-fense!” — a throwback to coach Rick Carlisle’s first stint with the Pacers and throughout ex-coach Frank Vogel’s tenure, something few thought would return this season.
It was a 61-point turnaround from an embarrassing 155-104 loss in this season’s first matchup with Boston, one that Indiana used as motivation.
“Everybody saw what they did to us in Boston, so it was personal,” Bruce Brown said.
Offensively, there’s little doubt about the Pacers’ potency.
They entered Tuesday leading the league in field goal percentage (51.1%), assists (30.1), points in the paint (59.9), fast-break points (17.7) and scoring (128.1 points) — nearly two points above Denver‘s NBA single-season record (126.5) from 1981-82.
Even after a slow start on a subpar shooting night, Haliburton capped his first triple-double with the tie-breaking four-point play. He finished with 26 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds and no turnovers in 40 minutes while battling an illness.
Haliburton has embraced his role as the leader of this young, deep and talented team, and he’s wasted no time demonstrating he’s a perfect fit for its run-and-gun style.
He’s already broken the franchise’s NBA-era single-season mark with four games of 30 or more points and 15 or more assists this season, and his four 15-assist games are just one fewer than the other 29 teams combined.
In November, he also joined Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only players in league history to average 27.0 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field and 40% from 3-point range over a full month. Jordan first did it in March 1989; James matched the feat in February 2017.
“It’s clear that this evolution is ongoing, and it’s erupting before our very eyes,” Carlisle said, referring to his 23-year-old budding star. “I thought we tried to spell him when we could, and he still ended up playing 40 minutes, but that’s what happens in playoff games. That’s how it goes. He’s a spectacular player and I know that Tatum got player of the month, but I’m sure Tyrese was right there.”
The bigger question: How long can the Pacers keep playing two-way basketball?
Despite spending most of the offseason talking about improved defense, it didn’t show up in the numbers over the first quarter of the season. They’re still allowing 125.2 points, perhaps a byproduct of playing so fast.
But after winning the first tournament game, becoming the first group winner and the first semifinalist, they’re hoping to leave Vegas as the first champion.
And they want to maintain that winning formula for the rest of the season.
“If we want to get to the playoffs and beat an elite team, obviously that’s where we have to hang our hats,” two-time blocked shots champ Myles Turner said. “The old saying
PHILADELPHIA — Kelly Oubre Jr. wanted to set the record straight — yes, a vehicle struck him as he walked near his home and the driver fled. Yes, he suffered a traumatic injury. And no, he doesn’t care for anyone who questioned his account of what happened on that Philadelphia street last month.
“This was and is a very traumatic situation for me and my family,” Oubre told reporters Monday at the Philadelphia 76ers‘ complex in New Jersey. “So, I just wish that my life wasn’t like ‘The Truman Show’ where everybody kind of watched it and have their own opinion about my life.”
In a since-deleted post, an anonymous social media user last month said a girl who is seen with Giddey in videos and photographs was a high school junior at the time. The social media account has since been deactivated.
Giddey, who is from Australia, turned 21 in October. He and the Thunder have declined to comment on the situation so far.
During the game, the Kings issued a statement offering their condolences.
“During the first quarter of the Kings vs. Pelicans game, a guest had a medical emergency,” the statement said. “EMS immediately responded and administered CPR. Tragically, these efforts were unsuccessful and the guest passed away. The organization offers its deepest condolences to the guest’s family and loved ones.”
The Sacramento Metro Fire Department said the victim was a man in his 30s, FOX40 News later reported, with the outlet detailing that he was unresponsive when medics arrived, and after 20 minutes, he was pronounced dead.
Keegan Murray, a forward for the Kings, spoke to reporters after their 127-117 loss, and said the team wasn’t “aware” of the
It will be the first game the No. 1 overall 2023 draft pick will miss in his brief NBA career. He averaged 19.3 points and 9.7 rebounds through the first 18 games of the season for San Antonio, which entered Friday with a 3-15 record.
Wembanyama played through the hip issue on Thursday, finishing with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in 29 minutes of San Antonio’s 137-135 loss to Atlanta.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after that game that not playing Wembanyama in the second half of a back-to-back was a possibility.
“We’re trying to protect him,” Popovich said Thursday.
Giving Wembanyama the Friday game off will mean he will get nearly a week of rest, at minimum. Because of the break provided by the knockout round that starts Monday in the In-Season Tournament, the earliest Wembanyama would play again is Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET) at Minnesota.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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Skip Bayless, Keyshawn Johnson and Rachel Nichols discuss the LA Clippers after their win over the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night. James Harden scored 17 points in the first quarter, promoting coach Ty Lue to say “That’s what it should look like.” when talking to the media postgame.
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The Newport Beach, California, Police Department said Wednesday that its detectives are conducting an investigation into an accusation that Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey had an improper relationship with an underage girl.
In a since-deleted post, an anonymous social media user last week said a girl who is seen with Giddey in videos and photographs was a high school junior at the time. The social media account has since been deactivated.
Giddey, an Australian, turned 21 in October.
The Newport Beach Police said in a news release that it is “actively seeking additional information related to these allegations and pursuing all leads and evidence to obtain the facts of the case.”
The NBA said last week that it is investigating. Giddey has declined to comment, and coach Mark Daigneault had no comment before Tuesday’s game at Minnesota. The NBA and the Thunder did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
Giddey is averaging 12 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game for an Oklahoma City team that is off to a 11-6 start. He has started both games since the accusations were made — losses to the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves. He was mostly cheered during starter introductions at home against Philadelphia, but he was booed and heckled throughout the road game against Minnesota.
Giddey was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 draft and was named to the All-Rookie second team during the 2021-2022 season. Last season, he averaged 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists. At the FIBA World Cup this past summer, he averaged a team-high 19.4 points for an Australia team that went 3-2.
1. What has been your biggest takeaway from the first week of games?
Bobby Marks: Three teams projected to finish at the bottom of their conferences — Minnesota, Cleveland and Phoenix — failed to get the message. The general manager of a playoff squad told me last week that the teams with new head coaches and low expectations are the ones you do not want to face early in the season. Teams with a fresh start can surprise before the middle part of the season, when losing becomes a habit and players start looking toward the offseason.
Andrew Lopez: The East might be a little bit deeper than we thought. Philadelphia and Milwaukee were expected to waltz to the conference finals, but that might not be the case. The defending champion Raptors aren’t going away easily. Miami is quietly cooking down in South Beach. Trae Young has looked mighty good, and Detroit might even make some noise with the way Derrick Rose and Andre Drummond are playing.
Tim Bontemps: The 76ers are going to win a lot of games in very ugly fashion. Philadelphia’s size across the board gives the team a chance to end this season with the NBA’s best defense, which will likely need to be the case given that Philly can’t shoot. The Sixers have gone 31-for-104 from deep so far, but with their size and defense, it isn’t going to matter most nights.
Kevin Pelton: NBA teams are pushing the pace even further. This time last year, there were an average of 105.4 possessions per 48 minutes for each team, portending the league’s jump over 100 possessions per 48-minute game for the first time in nearly three decades. That’s up again so far this year, with an average of 106.3 possessions per 48 minutes. Although pace tends to drop over the course of the season, we’re still likely in for our fastest season in recent memory.
2. What has been the biggest surprise so far?
Lopez: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it looks like early reports of the Spurs’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. Every season, people try to say the end of the Spurs is imminent, and every season, San Antonio seems to bounce right back. San Antonio went 3-0 in the opening week, and FiveThirtyEight still gives the team just a 15% chance to make the playoffs.
Marks: The Suns. Their biggest offseason addition was not Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes or Kelly Oubre. That honor goes to new head coach Monty Williams. In Saturday’s win against the LA Clippers without Rubio and Deandre Ayton, Williams used the next-man-up approach in steering the team to a win. Remember this is the same Phoenix that didn’t win its second game until Nov. 2 last year.
Young: I predicted they’d get the East’s last playoff spot, but the Atlanta Hawks look like they’re taking a real step forward. For every young team, it has to come at some point … or not at all. The Hawks look like a group of young, talented players who are developing while learning how to win. Trae Young has a great chance to be an All-Star, and 40 wins doesn’t feel at all unattainable.
Pelton: Even though I was higher on the Suns than most because of their strong statistical projections, I didn’t expect them to start 2-2 against a difficult schedule with a win over the Clippers and a pair of one-point losses to Denver and Utah. Phoenix has been shockingly competent on defense and has thus far survived Ayton’s suspension without missing a beat.
Bontemps: Miami Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn. Nunn’s going from barely starting in the G League last season to averaging more than 22 PPG is the latest impressive success story for Miami’s player development department. Even when Jimmy Butler comes back following the birth of his child, Nunn will be a starter or remain a core part of Miami’s rotation.
3. What has been the biggest disappointment so far?
Pelton: Despite a comfortable win Monday over a short-handed Pelicans squad, I’m still going with the Warriors, who have the NBA’s third-worst point differential (minus-12.0 PPG). Although hot opponent 3-point shooting isn’t sustainable and Golden State will get healthier in the frontcourt, the lack of competitive fight in the team’s first two losses was shocking to see. It forced Steve Kerr to play his “break glass in case of emergency” option and turn to Draymond Green at center far earlier than he wanted.
Lopez: I didn’t know where to put the Kings before the season, but I didn’t think they’d end up getting blown out by the Suns on opening night. The Kings followed that with a 10-point loss to Portland before a 113-81 loss to Utah. Sacramento put up a fight against Denver on Monday before falling to 0-4. Things don’t look so bright in Sactown early this season.
Bontemps: I was out on the Pacers to begin with, but this has been a truly dreadful start. Two losses to the Detroit Pistons without Blake Griffin and being blown out by the Cleveland Cavaliers — perhaps the league’s worst team — is far from the way the Pacers hoped to start, even with Victor Oladipo sidelined. The Pacers badly miss Bojan Bogdanovic, and they’ve continued their blah offensive performances from the previous season. They have several more soft games coming up to try to get themselves right. Indiana better do it quickly.
Young:Zion Williamson‘s injury. The Pelicans mostly have been competitive without him, but not having Zion has been a major bummer for them and the league. The Pelicans need to tread some water in the weeks they’ll be without him, or they risk falling into a tough hole in a deep Western Conference. That’s especially important for a young team trying to find its way.
Marks: Sacramento. The Kings look more like a team that will be analyzing lottery combinations than one competing for a final playoff spot. They rank near the bottom in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Even the backcourt of the future of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield looks less than formidable. Because the Kings have been so poor on defense, they can’t generate as many fast break points as they did last season, when they ranked first in the league.
4. Which rookie has made the best first impression?
Pelton: Nunn has made the most of his opportunity as a starter in Miami, averaging 22.3 PPG while making 58% of his 2-point attempts and 42% of his 3s. I’d like to see Nunn look to make more plays for teammates, but that won’t matter if he remains so efficient as a scorer.
Lopez: Yeah, take a bow, Kendrick Nunn. He showed out in the preseason with a 40-point contest against Houston and has made the most of Jimmy Butler’s paternity leave with efficient shooting in 31.7 minutes per night.
Marks: Agreed on Nunn. His play — and the early returns on Tyler Herro — make veteran guard Dion Waiters expendable, though Waiters is likely close to untradable.
Young: Morant’s closing sequence in regulation against Kyrie and the Nets is going to stick in a lot of people’s minds all the way to Rookie of the Year voting. That’s the kind of early statement that can build momentum and carry throughout the season. One less splashy name: Rui Hachimura, who looks smooth and versatile as a hybrid 3/4 in Washington.
5. You get one preseason prediction do-over. What is it?
Bontemps: I thought the Bulls had a chance to be pretty good and contend for a playoff spot. That isn’t looking so hot after they lost to the Hornets, barely beat the Grizzlies, got pounded at home by the Raptors and blew a lead against the Knicks. Unless things change quickly, this could be another lost season for Chicago.
Young: The Warriors making the playoffs. It feels knee-jerky, but like I said, I was affected seeing it firsthand. If things get worse, there has to be some consideration to peeling back, resting Steph Curry and Draymond Green periodically and tanking the season. It takes all pressure off Klay Thompson to return quickly, letting the team focus on the young players and target a lottery pick to prepare for a retool.
Lopez: Before Zion Williamson’s knee injury, he was my pick for Rookie of the Year. Then I changed it to Michael Porter Jr. With my third shot at this, let me move on to Morant. In his first three games, Morant is averaging 18 points and six assists per game while shooting 51.2% overall and 50% from 3. Perhaps the most impressive thing has been his basketball IQ. His dish to Crowder for the game winner on Sunday was a veteran move.
Marks: Although my early July prediction of Golden State not making the playoffs is trending toward likely, I’ve missed the mark (so far) on the Kings getting in. If there were a do-over, Sacramento would be out, and the Mavericks would get the nod. Luka Doncic looks like an All-Star, and the return of Kristaps Porzingis has the Mavericks with two bona fide franchise players. This roster is deep enough to sustain an injury and still compete in the West for a 7- or 8-seed.
Pelton: If I were picking my eight West playoff teams today, I wouldn’t include the Warriors.