Tyrese Haliburton acknowledged the Los Angeles Lakers deserved Saturday's in-season tournament final victory as he vowed the Indiana Pacers will bounce back with a playoff push.
Haliburton has emerged as one of the breakout stars of the inaugural in-season tournament, but he was unable to help the Pacers triumph in Las Vegas as they fell to a 123-109 defeat to the Lakers.
Haliburton finished with 20 points and 11 assists but was upstaged by Anthony Davis, who had 41 points and 20 rebounds for Los Angeles, while LeBron James added 24.
Speaking after the Pacers' defeat, Haliburton accepted the Lakers had brought a playoff-level performance and deserved to go home with the trophy.
"Yeah, we're sick, frustrated," Haliburton said. "We just got outplayed tonight from the start of the game to the end of the game.
"We just didn't do the job on loose balls, didn't rebound, didn't get enough stops when needed. They just outplayed us, and it's frustrating.
"Every team doesn't have Anthony Davis and a bunch of 6-8, 6-9 wings, so there's that, as well. It's just about understanding how different looks are going to come.
"This doesn't have a regular-season feel at all. I'm used to playing LeBron whatever he plays, 30, 35 minutes. It felt like him and AD never came off the floor. It was like a playoff-type deal."
a lot to be proud of. pic.twitter.com/Qlu3TYKDMV— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 10, 2023
There are still plenty of reasons for positivity in Indiana, though, with the team fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 12-8 record after winning their last three regular-season games.
Haliburton is determined to help the Pacers end their three-season playoff exile in order to enjoy more of the games that matter, adding: "Getting accustomed to that was good for me and makes me want to play some more games that have some meaning to them.
"So we have to handle the season the right way so I can get to the playoffs and feel that."