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Haliburton’s Hoosier Hospitality leads to East dismantling West in record-breaking NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis

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Despite Circle City becoming a tundra buried in more than six inches of snow, Indianapolis hosted the 73rd NBA All-Star Game in front of a sold-out crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Downtown Indianapolis on Feb 18.

Team East defeated Team West 211-186, with East scoring an impressive 104 points in the first half. It is also the highest-scoring NBA All-Star Game since the game’s inception.

This year, the league returned to the ‘East versus West’ format for the All-Star Game, opting in for traditional twelve-minute quarters.

Team East, led by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and his head coach Doc Rivers, featured Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Bucks guard Damian Lillard and hometown hero point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

Tyrese Haliburton at the 73rd NBA All-Star Game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Downtown Indianapolis, IN on February 18, 2023.
Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots during the second half of an NBA All-Star basketball game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, voted in as an All-Star starter, were replaced by Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young due to injury.

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Team East reserves include Miami Heat Center Bam Adebayo, Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero, New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey, and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell.

When asked about his second NBA All-Star experience, his first as a Pacer and ‘host,’ Haliburton compared the weekend to a zoo.

“It’s been a zoo,” Haliburton said. “It’s been a lot, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been told I’m kind of like the prom king of the weekend, so just doing whatever I’m asked to do.”

Many fans would agree with Haliburton; upwards of 125,000 fans from more than 43 states and 27 nations arrived in Indiana for the NBA All-Star festivities despite weekend temperatures reaching as low as 13 degrees (seven degrees with wind chill.)

Just like the NBA All-Star Weekend of old, in 1985 here in Indianapolis, downtown became a winter wonderland, accumulating 6.6 inches of snow, approximately two more inches than 39 years ago.

The last Pacer to make an NBA All-Star Game via voting was Reggie Miller in the 1994-95 season.

In Reggie Miller fashion, Haliburton drained multiple three-pointers in the first quarter, going 5-6 from what felt like the Bicentennial Unity Plaza outside of the arena. The energy as the ‘prom king’ stepped into each three-pointer was electric and undeniable.

Indiana Pacers Legends Oscar Robertson, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird during the 73rd NBA All-Star Game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Downtown Indianapolis, IN on February 18, 2024.
Former Indiana Pacers player Reggie Miller, center, 12-time NBA All-Star Oscar Robertson, left, and NBA legend Larry Bird speak to the fans before the start of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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Haliburton, who signed the largest contract in Pacers history last season, a five-year deal worth $260 million, finished the all-star contest with 32 points, six assists and seven rebounds, shooting 10-14 from three.

Moreover, Team East amassed 42 three-pointers, setting a new NBA All-Star Game record.

On the other side of the star-studded contest, led by Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch was Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić, and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.

West reserves included Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry, Suns guard Devin Booker, Lakers forward Anthony Davis, Clippers forward duo Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, and Timberwolves forward combo Antony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Towns, who dropped 50 points in the NBA All-Star Game, was only five points shy of tying Tatum’s record set one year ago.

When asked about his leading performance, Towns spoke about making the best of an opportunity.

“It was amazing to be in this position,” Towns said. “With everything that happened with me last year and the injury, you learn more in life how to cherish the moment and the opportunities you’re given.”

The Minnesota forward jokingly said he was expecting to score “more like 15.”

Haliburton almost secured the 2024 Kia NBA All-Star MVP in his team’s city, but was beat out by Bucks’ Damian Lillard, who put up 39 points and six assists while firing off eleven three-pointers.

The last player to win the NBA All-Star Game MVP Award while representing the hosting city’s team was Anthony Davis during his time with the Pelicans in New Orleans in 2017.

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Lillard, who won the Three-Point Contest the night before at Lucas Oil Stadium (and the year before), stunned the crowd in Indy with a pull-up jumper from half-court earlier in the All-Star Game only to be booed in Gainbridge after winning the MVP award over the hosting Haliburton.

“When I was doing the three-point [contest], I was like ‘Im going to come to win,” Lillard said following the game. “I ain’t going to be casual with it, I’m going to try to win it [Three-Point Contest] again.”

James, the league’s all-time scoring leader, made his 20th consecutive All-Star appearance, a league record, finishing the game with eight points, including an emphatic sledgehammer dunk early in the contest that got nearly every fan out of their seat.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James at the 73rd NBA All-Star Game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis on February 18, 2024. (Photo/Noral Parham III)
Los Angeles Lakers forward and NBA all-time leading scorer LeBron James following the 73rd NBA All-Star Game on February 18, 2024 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Downtown Indianapolis. (Photo/Noral Parham III)

The eventual NBA Hall of Famer said it has been an honor to make the NBA All-Star Game for two decades.

“It’s just been an absolute honor to be able to grace the floor throughout my career and be out there with the greatest players in the world year in and year out,” James said. “This is very humbling, very blessed, and it’s something I will never forget obviously. It’s part of my journey.”

The 74th NBA All-Star Game is in The Bay in San Francisco in 2025.

Contact Senior Sports Writer Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846 or via email at noralp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @3Noral. For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here.

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