Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

NBA Starting 5, Dec. 8: LeBron, Hali & a title showdown

LeBron catches fire in L.A.'s win, while Tyrese Haliburton's star continues to rise as he takes over late against the Bucks.

And then there were two.

The Lakers & Pacers will meet for the inaugural NBA Cup on Saturday (8:30 ET), live on ABC.

Here’s the best of what we saw in Las Vegas on Thursday – with a couple changes in today’s Starting 5. Let us know how you like ’em. Want to share the love? Send a friend here.


  1. 🎰 Thursday’s Vegas Guide
  2. 🏎️ Pacers Win, Hali Does It Again
  3. 🌇 LeBron Leads Lakers To W
  4. 📸 Photos of the Night
  5. 🏀 Preview: Championship Weekend

🏆 In-Season Tournament Hub

📺 Knicks at Celtics: 7:30 ET, NBA TV

📺 Clippers at Jazz: 10 ET, ESPN


A lot happened on Thursday.

So much so that we made you a brand-new story about it on

Tap in for a few of our team’s faves from Thursday, just for the Starting 5 fam … with a few that stood out right here.

  • Logo Bron: Hoopers know … not all heat checks go in. But from the moment LeBron let it go from the logo after two straight treys, the whole arena knew it was good

Tyrese, Again: The Tournament’s been a showcase for the Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton, who put up a stat line nobody else has before. He came through (again) late with a ridic up & under, then a devastating step-back 3. Watch the final 2:40 of Pacers-Bucks right here

  • Cold Quote: “It’s our time. … We’re shocking the world right now,” Haliburton said. Remember, Hali’s 4-point play in the quarterfinals iced the game, too. We can’t fit all the Haliburton content in here, so head to Section 2

Come behind the curtain (and onto the red carpet):

  • Strike A Pose: What’s it like to walk the red carpet at the first-ever In-Season Tournament? See for yourself
  • Here’s What It Looked Like when LeBron showed up
  • Wait, How Many? We know you get asked this a lot, but think you can guess how many poker chips fit in the NBA Cup? Damian Lillard, Tyrese Haliburton & their teams gave it a shot
  • Jesser Lost It: During this monster Giannis poster, as we were filming courtside with the content creator
  • Hey, Buddy: How’d you do this?


🏎️ (2) Pacers 128, (1) Bucks 119
Recap | IND 12-8 (6-0), MIL 15-7 (5-1)

Hali’s Star Rising: Haliburton started the day at the No. 1 spot in Matt Peterson’s In-Season Tournament MVP rankings on

Then he made his case to stay there, putting up 27 pts, 15 ast, 7 reb and ZERO turnovers, as the Pacers became the first team to reach the Championship game.

  • Wild Stat: Haliburton’s line gave him his third 25-15-0 game this year. Nobody has had more than one IN THEIR CAREER since turnovers started being recorded in 1977-78
  • 28 AST, 0 TO (Again): He didn’t have a turnover last game either, giving him 28 assists without a TO in that span. Only two players have ever done that before. And guess what?
  • He’s One Of Them: Three weeks ago, Hali had 32+ with no TOs over two games. Before that, it’d been 20 years since anyone had 28+ with no turnovers. Hali’s done it twice this year. (The other is Jason Williams)

Having A Moment: You can measure stardom in stats (like how he leads the league, by a lot, with 12.1 APG), and you can measure it in the way a name starts to ripple through the league.

And the name Tyrese Haliburton is starting to make some waves.

Tyrese Haliburton comes up big down the stretch to help Indiana advance to the In-Season Tournament Championship.

  • High Praise: “A superstar in the making — and it’s happening in real-time. Tyrese Haliburton is putting the basketball world on notice,” said Reggie Miller
  • “He wants to win … he wants to do it more and more, and he wants to repeat it,” said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
  • Clutching Up: Hali’s not just putting up numbers early in games. He’s becoming one of the game’s best closers, too – taking over late two games in a row, to send them to the brink of history
  • He’s Got Jokes Too: Myles Turner & Hali were in their presser, and hilarity ensued when Turner said they don’t have ‘Hollywood guys’
  • We Walked Off with Hali right after he sent the Pacers on

Loose Balls

  • Giannis had a monster night, with 37 points, 10 rebounds and about a week’s worth of highlights. Find ’em all here
  • Even Hotter: The Pacers are pacing toward an all-time PPG mark, at 128.4. They’re putting up 132.7 in the Tournament
  • Special Reserve(s): Indy’s bench outscored Milwaukee’s, 43-13


LeBron James sits down with TNT's Allie LaForce to discuss the Lakers' run to Las Vegas and playoff intensity in December.

🌇 (1) Lakers 133, (3) Pelicans 89
Recap | LAL 14-9 (6-0), NOP 12-11 (4-2)

LeBron Leads (Again): The No. 2 player in Peterson’s Tournament MVP rankings has a pretty good resume, too. He padded it again on Thursday night.

After winding back the clock in the quarterfinals, LeBron came out aggressive, revving up a Lakers-heavy T-Mobile Arena with 30 points in just 23 minutes – and leading the Lakers to the first In-Season Tournament Championship game.

  • The Catalyst: With the Pelicans up 30-29 after the first, Bron scored the Lakers’ first 11 points of the second quarter, including those three-straight treys
  • Here’s That Shot: From just a few feet away
  • Check Out: The reaction after he hit that logo 3
  • On Bron: “Extraordinary … otherworldly … one-of-one,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham after the game. “He’s the ultimate tone-setter.”

Loose Balls

  • Anthony Davis had a big 16-point, 15-rebound double-double to set the tone early – along with a big oop from Bron. Here it is from courtside
  • Trey Murphy III led the scoring for New Orleans, with 14 points. Zion had 13
  • We caught Austin Reaves on the way out, after dropping 17 in the win


Here come two of Giannis' game-high 37 points

Here come two of Giannis’ game-high 37 points

Just your average half-court alley-oop reverse dunk from Obi Toppin to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter of a win-or-go-home game

Just your average half-court alley-oop reverse dunk from Obi Toppin to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter of a win-or-go-home game

Anthony Davis and LeBron James hit the dual celly as the Lakers cruised to the championship game

Anthony Davis and LeBron James hit the dual celly as the Lakers cruised to the Championship game

Damian Lillard tries to break free as he put up 24 points, 7 boards and 7 dimes on Thursday

Damian Lillard tries to break free as he puts up 24 points, 7 boards and 7 dimes on Thursday

Tyrese Haliburton makes the wraparound pass against the defense of Brook Lopez

Tyrese Haliburton makes the wraparound pass against the defense of Brook Lopez

Austin Reaves hits the jumper and holds the follow through

Austin Reaves hits the jumper and holds the follow-through



Saturday in Vegas, 36 days after the inaugural In-Season Tournament tipped off, the first champs in its history will lift the NBA Cup.

The Basics: The Lakers meet the Pacers at 8:30 ET on ABC.

  • The Cup & More: The NBA Cup goes to the champs, with awards also going to Tournament MVP (for work across all games), the All-Tournament Team, and medals for everybody on the champs
  • Plus: $500,000 to every member of the winning team – the largest share of the prize pool
  • Reminder: While every other game of the Tournament counted toward regular season stats & standings, this is the only one that won’t


📺 Knicks (12-8) at Celtics (15-5): Two teams who made it to the Tournament Quarterfinals get back to the longest-standing rivalry in the NBA … and the Knicks just three games behind the first-place Celtics (7:30 ET, NBA TV)

📺 Clippers (10-10) at Jazz (7-14): Just like that, the Clippers are clicking. Back to .500 after starting 3-7, they’ve beaten the Nuggets, Warriors, Mavs and Kings to go 4-2 over the last two weeks (10 ET, ESPN)

Rising Star Showcase: Catch Cooper Flagg and some of the top rising youth talent in the first EYBL Scholastic Showcase, streaming live in the NBA App (4:45 ET)

📲 11 games in the NBA App