NBA playoffs: Tyrese Haliburton’s game-winner lifts Pacers to 2-1 lead over Bucks | NBA


Tyrese Haliburton struggled to find his shooting touch Friday night.

So he looked for other ways to impact the game – a thunderous slam dunk off a rebound, finding open teammates and patiently waiting for a chance to make a statement. Then in the waning seconds of overtime, Haliburton wanted the ball.

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The All-Star guard completed a three-point play with 1.6 seconds left, capping his first postseason triple-double in his first home playoff game to give the Indiana Pacers a 121-118 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Indiana leads the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Game 4 on Sunday in Indianapolis.

“You know I was going to shoot it, no matter what,” Haliburton said. “What I was going to get was really based off of feel. there. Khris (Middleton) pushed Pascal (Siakam) up to tell Patrick (Beverley) to go under and as soon as I saw Patrick kind of turn his head, I reacted and everything opened up across the middle and I finally made a shot. I couldn’t buy a bucket tonight.”

Yes, Haliburton was just 8 of 22 from the field and 1 of 12 on three-pointers. But he did just about everything else right, finishing with 18 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds as two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo again sat out for Milwaukee because of a strained left calf.

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Myles Turner added 29 points and nine rebounds, both playoff career highs, to help give Indiana their first back-to-back postseason wins since taking three straight in the 2014 Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The Pacers also have their first lead in the playoffs since Game 3 of a first-round matchup against Cleveland in 2018. Indiana hasn’t won a series since reaching the 2014 Eastern Conference finals.

“It was a really fun game and overtime, what more could you ask for?” Haliburton said. “It was a really fun atmosphere.”

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Perhaps not so fun for a Bucks team that has gotten more bruised and battered by the game.

Middleton finished with a playoff-career high 42 points and had 10 rebounds and five assists after missing practice Thursday because of a sprained right ankle. He forced overtime by making a three-pointer with 1.4 seconds to go in regulation, banked in a three to tie the score with 6.7 seconds left in overtime and then missed a three at the buzzer that could have forced a second overtime.

Damian Lillard added 28 points and eight assists, most coming after he hurt his left knee in the first quarter and then aggravating an achilles tendon injury late in the fourth quarter.

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“We’ve just got to turn the page and get one win after another,” said Lillard, who is playing in his first postseason with the Bucks, who are 2-6 against Indiana this season.

It was a wild finish in front of a festive crowed decked out in gold T-shirts for Indiana’s first home playoff game since 21 April 2019 – and with many local favorites in attendance. The crowd included Indiana Fever newcomer Caitlin Clark, former Colts coach Tony Dungy, former Pacers forward Derrick McKey and current Colts players Anthony Richardson, Kenny Moore II and EJ Speed.

But these fans never expected to see the experienced Bucks methodically trim a 19-point first-half deficit to 90-83 after three quarters or to open the fourth on a 10-2 run to take a 95-92 lead on Bobby Portis Jr’s putback early in the fourth.

The teams then traded baskets, ties and leads over the final seven and a half minutes of regulation, with Siakam’s putback with 19.1 seconds left giving the Pacers a 109-106 lead. But Siakam missed the ensuing free throw, Middleton answered with a midrange shot and the three to tie it. Siakam’s long three to win it hit off the back of the rim at the buzzer.

“I thought we picked up our energy, I thought we got more physical,” Lillard said. “We just kind of got things under control, we got matched up, got into the gaps and thought once we started to do all of those things, the game started to turn. That’s something we’ve got to focus on.”

It was more of the same in overtime – until Haliburton broke free for the mid-range shot that drew a foul and led to the decisive three-point play.

Siakam had 17 points and nine rebounds. Portis had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Bucks.

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