June 22, 2024

ATLANTA — Tyrese Haliburton scored 37 points with 16 assists, Buddy Hield hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer in the final minute and the Indiana Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks 157-152 on Tuesday night to clinch a spot in the NBA in-season tournament quarterfinals.

It marked just the seventh regulation game in league history to feature both teams scoring at least 150 points, and the Pacers’ 157 points are a franchise record, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Hield’s jumper from the left wing broke a 152-all tie with 52 seconds left. Dejounte Murray was called for an offensive foul on a 3-point attempt on the Hawks’ next possession, then missed a difficult layup following an Indiana turnover with eight seconds remaining.

Hield made a layup at the buzzer.

“It is exciting,” Haliburton said of advancing to the quarterfinals. “We are the first team to clinch, and we are ready to go. We have a few more games before the quarterfinals, so we want to take care of what is in front of us first, but we want to win the championship, of course. It would be awesome.”

The Pacers are 3-0 in East Group A with one game left in group play. The Hawks dropped to 1-2. The quarterfinals will be held Dec. 4-5.

Hield had 24 points, and Obi Toppin scored 21 off the bench as the Pacers set an NBA season high for points. Bennedict Mathurin added 19 points, including a buzzer-beating shot to close the third quarter.

Haliburton leads the league in assists.

“Tyrese, you just run out of accolades,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “Fearless, leader, great competitor — so happy for him.”

Trae Young led the Hawks with 38 points and eight assists. Murray scored 28, and Bogdan Bogdanovic had 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was the first game since the Pacers beat the Hornets on March 28, 1997, that both teams shot 60% from the floor; the Pacers shot 60.6% and the Hawks shot 60.0% on Tuesday night.

“Obviously both teams were hard to guard, and the scoreboard reflected that,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “There was a series of runs, which you’re going to have. It was a tough game. All losses are tough, but I felt like we competed.”

The Pacers have not reached the NBA playoffs since the 2019-20 season, so having an opportunity to advance in the first year of the in-season tournament has been a focal point for the team.

“This essentially is a playoff environment,” Carlisle said. “Atlanta was playing for a lot, too. The in-season tournament is getting a lot of buzz. … This is a real thing. Hats off to the people in New York for coming up with something that, at least to this point, is strong.”

Both teams entered ranked in the top five in points per game and the bottom five in points allowed per game, setting up a high-scoring affair. The first half did not disappoint, as the Hawks set a franchise record with 86 points and led 86-73 at the break.

“We were not giving nearly enough resistance defensively (in the first half),” Carlisle said. “We challenged ourselves to pick it up and be defiant with our attitude and give ourselves a chance.”

Atlanta led by 20 in the second quarter but the Pacers came all the way back and tied it at 107 when Haliburton hit a 3 with just under four minutes remaining in the third. Haliburton scored 26 points in the period, and Indiana led 119-114 entering the fourth.

The Pacers shot 48.9% from 3-point range, while the Hawks shot 48.4%.

“This is a classic regular-season game,” Carlisle said. “It had to be really fun to watch for fans.”

The Pacers shook up their starting lineup, inserting Hield and Aaron Nesmith in place of Toppin and Mathurin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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