June 19th, 2024

Tyrese Haliburton’s 30-point performance guides Pacers past Raptors 140-123

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on April 9, 2024.

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) drives to the net as Toronto Raptors forward Kelly Olynyk (41) defends during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO – Tyrese Haliburton scored 30 points with five rebounds and five assists to lead the Indiana Pacers past the Toronto Raptors 140-123 on Tuesday.

Former Raptors all-star Pascal Siakam received a warm welcome from fans before scoring 16 points with nine rebounds as Indiana (46-34) won its third straight. Myles Turner added 16 points.

RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., had 23 points as Toronto (25-54) saw its modest two-game win streak end. Kelly Olynyk of Kamloops, B.C., added 22 points with five boards and four assists.

Javon Freeman-Liberty had a career-high 20 points and added eight rebounds for the Raptors. His previous best was 16 points on April 3 in a 133-85 loss in Minnesota.

It was the final home game of the season for the Raptors, who had already been eliminated from the NBA’s post-season.

Toronto’s last three games of the campaign will be in Brooklyn on Wednesday followed by a back-to-back in Miami on Friday and Sunday.

“It’s been a difficult season,” said Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic before the game. “Everybody in this organization is working really, really hard to turn this around.

“They’re all excited about the summer and opportunities that we have ahead of us and we’re really focusing on us getting better and winning much more games in the future.”

Toronto’s first-round pick in this summer’s NBA draft is still up in the air. The Raptors have the sixth worst record in the league, but if the draft lottery on May 12 shuffles them to seventh or later in the selection order the pick will automatically transfer to the San Antonio Spurs as part of last year’s trade for centre Jakob Poeltl.

Toronto has a 37.2 per cent chance of moving into one of the draft’s top four picks in the lottery and a nine per cent chance of selecting first overall. The Raptors, however, have a more than 50 per cent chance of dropping to seventh or worse.

Freeman-Liberty was red hot to start the game, scoring nine points as the Raptors built an early 15-4 lead. Toronto kept rolling, finishing the first with a 35-25 lead as Freeman-Liberty had a season-high 14 points in the quarter.

Indiana outscored the Raptors 40-29 in the second quarter, largely thanks to a 33-12 run. Haliburton tied it with a pair of free throws, then Myles Turner drilled a 24-foot three-pointer for the Pacers’ first lead of the game and the visitors held a 65-64 lead at halftime.

Turner came alive in the third, scoring 10 of his points in the quarter. That helped Indiana add to its lead, taking a 106-91 lead into the final frame.

Haliburton had 10 points, three rebounds and two assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Pacers led by as much as 18 in the final 12 minutes of the game.

DICK OUT – Toronto rookie forward Gradey Dick missed the game with a right groin contusion. Rajakovic said pre-game that Dick is considered day-to-day. The 20-year-old forward addressed fans at Scotiabank Arena pre-game, thanking them for supporting the Raptors through a difficult season.

UP NEXT – The Raptors head to Brooklyn to face the Nets on Wednesday.

Indiana continues its road trip with a stop in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2024.

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