Despite some shaky defense down the stretch, the Indiana Pacers locked in when it mattered the most, forcing six straight misses in the final two minutes to top the Dallas Mavericks, improving to to 2-0 on their road trip. The Pacers led 121-110 midway through the fourth, but surrendered 10 straight, forcing Indiana to dig in defensivley.
They proceeded to force Dallas into five missed threes in that time, even overcoming a second chance opportunity when Aaron Nesmith blocked Kyrie Irving out of bounds following a Luka Doncic offensive rebound. The game sat at 124-122 with 11 seconds remaining, the Mavericks eventually fouling Andrew Nembhard as Indiana attempted to quickly move the ball up the court.
Nembhard’s poor shooting returned tonight, scoring just three points on 1-6 shooting, unfortunately carrying over to the free throw line, where he missed both attempts. That gave Dallas plenty of time to spoil Indiana’s night, but T.J. McConnell stayed glued to Irving on the defensive end, forcing him into a miss on the game winning three attempt to secure the win.
On the night, the Pacers shot 52.6% and a steady 11-28 from three, but had just 18 points in the fourth quarter, shooting 7-17 in the period. The second half as a whole was largely controlled by Dallas sans a strong close to the third quarter that effectively saved their night.
Indiana led 69-59 at halftime, taking charge in the second quarter, outscoring Dallas 38-26, kickstarted by a 10-0 run early in the second quarter as Doncic sat following a dominating 18-point first quarter. So it was on real surprise that Doncic and the Mavs would have a comeback in them in the third, overcoming a poor shooting first half from three to knock in six in the opening six minutes, taking an 84-80 lead.
It was then that the Pacers made their own luck, coming up with a block on Doncic courtesy of Myles Turner, setting up a golden transition opportunity for Haliburton that ended in a dunk and one, helping Indiana to another 10-0 run that put them back on top 90-84.
Myles Turner with the swat and Tyrese Haliburton with the slam! #Pacers— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) March 1, 2023
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Stream: https://t.co/Ado8Y92Hxr pic.twitter.com/DBORD9lnQM
After the Mavericks had regained some composure, cutting the lead to two, Indiana wrapped up the quarter on a 10-4 run, pushing their lead back out to eight, Haliburton scoring seven straight, then setting up Jordan Nwora for the corner three.
"Made ya look" — Tyrese Haliburton, probably #Pacers— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) March 1, 2023
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Stream: https://t.co/Ado8Y92Hxr pic.twitter.com/tBwrIVPnTG
McConnell scored four to open the fourth while finding Jalen Smith for a dunk to extend Indiana’s lead to 12 with Doncic again on the bench, but before they could force an early reentry for the All-Star, Dallas put in six straight. McConnell dished two more assists, finding Nembhard for three and setting up Nwora for two more to extend the lead to double figures before the Mavs closed the gap, setting up the exciting finish.
One of Indiana’s biggest advantages on the night came at the free throw line, outscoring Dallas 31-18. The second quarter in particular helped the Pacers, allowing them to head into the break at 21-10 despite taking just six extra free throws in the half. Indiana would finish with 40, a season high, but still missed nine on the night.
Haliburton set a career best with 15 attempts himself, no small feat in a game featuring Doncic, who had 12. The two leading scorers combined for seven missed attempts, which made for a rather uncharacteristic night for both teams at the line, the Mavs ultimately missing 10. Haliburton came alive in the third quarter, scoring 14 points as part of his team high 32, finishing with seven rebounds and six assists.
Turner meanwhile scored 24 points with seven rebounds and four blocks, scoring another wildly efficiently shooting night at 10-13 in his homecoming game in Dallas, flashing some of Dirk Nowitzki’s patented fadeaway in the second half while also not allowing early foul trouble to pull him out of the game.
It helped that Rick Carlisle was never rushed to bring Turner back into the game thanks to another solid showing from Smith. Smith nearly had a double double at 11 points and nine rebounds, pulling in two of the team’s five offensive boards on the night, helping the Pacers to an 11-10 second chance points win.
Nwora led the bench with 16 points, again flashing plenty of offensive ability, hitting back-to-back corner threes to finish with three triples on the night. McConnell would score eight points with four assists and Bennedict Mathurin had six points, joining Tim Hardaway Jr. as the only players in the game to go perfect from the line on multiple trips, finishing 4-4.
Aaron Nesmith had a big first half to help Indiana to their double figure lead, scoring 12 of his 14 before the break. Buddy Hield had an interesting stat line, getting to the line twice on three shot fouls, finishing 7-9 from the free throw line, reaching double figures with 10 points on just 1-2 shooting.
The Pacers have now won back-to-back games for the first time since January 8th and back-to-back road games for the first time since December 23. They improve to 28-35 with the win and may find themselves in an interesting place down the stretch, trailing Washington by two games for 10th place.
There’s a real chance to push the winning streak to three games when they head south to face the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday despite the Spurs just snapping a 16-game losing streak tonight against Utah.