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Pacers final score: Pacers escape Rockets in OT 124-115

Tyrese Haliburton carried Indiana to a win over Houston in overtime, scoring 12 of his 29 in the extra period, totaling 19 assists for the game.

Houston Rockets v Indiana Pacers Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Halfway through the second quarter, Myles Turner laid in a bucket to put the Indiana Pacers up by 18 over the Houston Rockets at 56-38. At that point, it didn’t have the make up of a game that would soon be heading to overtime, but the Rockets were able to take full advantage of their rebounding success, climbing back into the game by halftime.

The Rockets would close the half on a 20-4 run, cutting the lead to four before Tyrese Haliburton gave Indiana a much-needed basket to end the second quarter. Houston had six offensive rebounds down the stretch, leading to as many points, a predictable outcome for what would happen when the league’s worst offensive rebounding team met up with the league’s best.

That ability to slaughter Indiana on the glass kept Houston afloat all second half, resulting in 20 offensive rebounds and 23 second chance points, outscoring the Pacers in that category. That allowed the Rockets to wind up with 82 points in the paint, helping minimize a solid three point shooting night for the Pacers, finishing 18-45.

All the fouls in the third quarter didn’t help much either. A total of 15 foul calls were made in the third, leading to 21 free throws. While the difference in free throws per team was negligible, the Pacers were forced to recalibrate after Turner picked up his fourth foul with just under five minutes remaining in the third.

That was an unfortunate development given how well Turner had played to that point, scoring _ with seven blocks. It was also a another key player down for a Pacers team that had gotten bad news earlier in the game, when Bennedict Mathurin turned his ankle badly in the second quarter. Mathurin had to be carried off the court, unable to put any weight on it and would not return.

Positive play from Jordan Nwora and T.J. McConnell especially would help the Pacers close the third quarter on a positive note, extending their lead out to seven at 98-91 heading into the fourth. That’s when the absence of Mathurin was most felt as the Pacers stumbled to just 6-23 shooting in the fourth quarter and an incredibly poor 3-13 shooting inside the paint, something Mathurin could at least bolster by drawing fouls and working his way to the line.

Indiana kept the game in their favor for the first half of the quarter, but would ultimately relinquish their advantage on an 8-0 Rockets run fueled by two rare three point makes from Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr., pushing them ahead 110-108 with four minutes remaining. Andrew Nembhard responded, knocking down a triple to respond and Haliburton got to the basket, making it a three-point lead a minute later.

The lead would remain at three heading into the final 10 seconds, when Smith would strike again, rattling in another three to tie the game off of the inbounds pass. Haliburton drove to the basket for the win, but was met at the basket and the officials opted not to whistle a foul, sending the game, somewhat surprisingly, to overtime.

The Pacers struck first in OT as Haliburton found Nembhard for two points, then dishing to Buddy Hield for his fifth three. Nembhard intercepted a pass, laying it in and pushing Indiana’s lead quickly to five at 122-117. The Rockets hung in there, responding twice to make it a three point game, but Haliburton proved too much, stepping back for a deep three, his first of the night, to double the lead, then throwing down a big dunk to close out the win.

Haliburton scored 12 points in overtime, including two three pointers after going 0-7 in regulation. It was a welcome OT period for Haliburton, finally feeling things opening up offensively after a rough outing. Despite a poor shooting performance in regulation, he did remain involved in the game, recording seven first quarter assists on his way to 19 for the game, finishing with just one turnover.

That, along with six assists from T.J. McConnell, helped the Pacers to 34 assists, their most since February 25 while committing 12 turnovers also continues a positive ball control trend since the All-Star break. Their 11.0 average is second best in the league in that time. Haliburton finished with 29, leading eight double figure scorers.

Turner scored 21, finishing with seven blocks and five rebounds, playing extremely well before eventually fouling out in the fourth quarter. That led to minutes from Jalen Smith and Isaiah Jackson, and while the duo had just two points between them, they did rebound well, pulling in four of Indiana’s six offensive rebounds as Smith totaled six for the night. They also combined for three blocks.

Hield led a barrage of three pointers with five, helping Indiana to 18 makes on 40% shooting. McConnell was one of seven Pacers with multiple threes, going a perfect 3-3 on his 13 points night, joining four other teammates with two steals, including Hield, who had two blocks of his own for good measure as Indiana totaled 15 as a team, tying their season high.

Nembhard shot the ball extremely well, knocking down a pair of threes and finishing 6-7 from the field for 14 points while Aaron Nesmith also hit two triples in his return to action, totaling 10 points. Off the bench, Nwora led the way with 18 points, continuing to flash plenty of craftiness on the offensive end. Chris Duarte finished with 10 himself, helping to alleviate some of the scoring absence left by Mathurin.

The win is Indiana’s 30th of the year, improving them to 30-37 on the year, moving them back to within a half game of idle Chicago for 11th place. The Pacers will head back out on the road, playing three straight as part of seven of eight over the next fortnight, starting with two games against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday and Monday.