Twenty-four hours made all the difference for the Indiana Pacers, turning one of the season’s worst showings into one of their most dominant, blowing out the Atlanta Hawks to start their four game homestand. The Pacers led most of the way, but struggled to put the Hawks away until Tyrese Haliburton stepped in in the fourth, kicking off a 19-3 run that put the game on ice.
Haliburton was electrifying in the fourth, scoring 13 points after Atlanta cut the lead to six at 103-97. Haliburton entered the game, quickly scoring four with a purpose to extend the lead back to double figures.
He then proceeded to knock down a pair of threes, blowing the game wide open while finding Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith, and Oshae Brissett for three points of their own. Just like that, it was a 21-point lead, capped by a fantastic finish that did have Haliburton grimacing afterwards. He would remain in the game.
another wild finish at the rim for Tyrese Haliburton. pic.twitter.com/bbO848f0m5— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 28, 2022
That stretch from Haliburton was exactly the extra gear the Pacers were looking for all night. After a slow start, Indiana took the lead late in the first, eventually extending it out to double figures, but the score remained frozen around that area until the start of the fourth when Atlanta made their move, scoring six straight to make it a two-possession game.
To that point, Indiana had gotten extensive bench contributions and a solid night from Myles Turner, but were in need of one more reliable scoring punch to go alongside a scorching Hield to put the game away for good. To that point, Haliburton had just 10 points on 4-9 shooting, eventually finishing with 23 points and seven assists.
Hield meanwhile tied his season high with 28 points, hitting 6-7 from three point range and leading Indiana to a rebounding win with nine boards. Hield’s shooting knew no limits tonight, helping to bring Indiana back into the game in the first after they had started a woeful 2-10 shooting.
Turner meanwhile led the Pacers in free throw attempts with eight, scoring 18 points on 6-11 shooting with six rebounds, two on the offensive end. Andrew Nembhard and Aaron Nesmith both struggled scoring, shooting a combined 2-12 for eight points. Nembhard in particular came alive at the right time, scoring his five points after the Hawks had cut the lead to seven, dishing five assists including a fast break dime to Bennedict Mathurin in that stretch.
The fast break bucket was part of a dominating 29-9 transition advantage for Indiana, outrunning the Hawks throughout the game. Mathurin got those two points as part of his 18, leading a 52-point bench effort. There weren’t many positives in last night’s loss to New Orleans, but Mathurin’s play in the fourth was maybe the biggest. He was a perfect 6-6 from the line and posted his best scoring outing in nearly two weeks.
Oshae Brissett also had a big bounce back night, scoring 16 points on 5-6 shooting, including a pair of threes. He pulled in five boards, joining both Jalen Smith and T.J. McConnell in positive outings on the glass. Smith scored nine points with seven rebounds while McConnell had six points to go with five boards and six assists. Chris Duarte splashed home a three for his three points.
This was quite the turnaround for Indiana, following up a 93-point performance with 96 through three quarters, the 129 tied for their third highest point total of the season. The win also moves them past Atlanta for seventh in the East, but it will be tough to stay there with a pair of difficult games to close out the calendar year starting with a home matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.