Tyrese Haliburton can forever say that he is an All-Star. The 22-year-old Pacers star made his All-Star debut on Sunday night in Salt Lake City and played well under the spotlight.
Haliburton amassed 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting (4-of-6 from 3-point range) to go along with three assists in 14 minutes of action in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.
Beyond a record 55 points from Jayson Tatum, Team Giannis prevailed over Team LeBron (which included Haliburton), 184-175.
For the first time ever, the All-Star Game draft was held just before the game, with team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo picking from the reserves and then the starters with the player pool sitting behind them on stage.
James took Haliburton with his fourth pick in the reserves round, continuing the trend of every Pacers All-Star since the draft started in 2018 being picked by Team LeBron (James also took Victor Oladipo in 2018 and Domantas Sabonis in both 2020 and 2021).
"It was pretty cool," Haliburton said of hearing James call his name. "Like I always say, I go into things having low expectations, so I thought for sure I was going to be the last pick today. Surprised that I came in the middle."
Haliburton checked in for his All-Star Game debut with 9:47 remaining in the second quarter. His first play of significance came at the 7:10 mark, making a no-look bounce pass to a cutting Anthony Edwards for a two-hand jam. A minute later, he threw a full-court pass to James, who drove baseline and threw down with his right hand.
After a timeout, Haliburton unleashed a quick flurry of points. His first bucket came off a dribble hand-off with Joel Embiid at 5:32, where he exploded to the rim for a layup. At 4:40, he threw down an uncontested right-hand slam in transition, then buried a three from the right corner the next time down the floor.
After tying the opening quarter 46-46, Team Giannis took the second quarter 53-46 to take a 99-92 lead into halftime.
Haliburton did not see the floor in the third quarter, watching as Tatum scored 27 points in the frame to lift Team Giannis to a 59-49 quarter victory. That put Team Giannis up 158-141 entering the fourth quarter and set a winning "target score" under the special "Elam Ending" All-Star Game rules of 182 (the first team to reach that number would win).
Haliburton started the fourth quarter and did his best to help Team LeBron come back. He weaved through the defense for a layup to make it 160-145, then answered Donovan Mitchell's three with a trey from the right wing that brought the score to 163-148.
After a Tatum dunk, he added another three from the right corner to make it 165-151, then drilled his third triple of the quarter -- this one from the left corner -- a little later to cut the score to 168-156.
Team Giannis led 179-168, but Team LeBron made it interesting with a 7-2 run. Damian Lillard ultimately ended the game with the game-winning three over Haliburton's contest.
Haliburton said he would stay in Salt Lake City with his family on Sunday night before flying back to Indianapolis on Monday and getting ready for the final 22 games of the season.
"Enjoy a nice dinner," Haliburton said of his postgame plans. "Reflect on the last couple years, the time it's taken to get here, all the hard work and sacrifices from my family and myself. I think that's what it's been about all week, just really taking a step back and reflecting."
All eyes will turn to Indianapolis now as the city will host NBA All-Star 2024. Haliburton said he already was feeling the anticipation of playing host at next year's festivities.
"It's going to be fire," he said. "I look forward to be able to host things, start planning things now...I'm really excited. Can't wait for next year. Hopefully I'm able to make the game again."