Pacers clinch first winning season since 2020 after win vs. Lakers

After Friday's win over the Lakers, the Indiana Pacers are finally a winning team for the first time in four years.
Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Pacers fans rejoice, our time has come!

After Wednesday's depressing loss to the Bulls, the Pacers entered Friday's competition against Los Angeles determined for a win and momentum to close out the season. The added pressure of Miami facing (and beating) a rebuilding Trail Blazers team as well as Joel Embiid's looming return was certainly felt as well, as the Pacers looked to avenge their loss from Monday.

Back on their home turf after going 3-2 on the road trip, Indiana hoped the home-court love would rub off and the Lakers wouldn't receive the completely biased officiating they enjoyed last Sunday.

As it turned out, not only did the Lakers not receive their typical lopsided officiating, only shooting 18 free throws compared to the Pacers' 14, but they didn't receive much of anything on the offensive end all night.

In a rare occurrence this season, the Pacers' defense propelled them to the win, as they held the Lakers to only 40% from the field and a putrid 16% from deep. Sure enough, the Lakers were outdone at every turn, losing the scoring battle every quarter and having little to no momentum all game outside of a short-lived five-point lead in the second quarter.

When it was all said and done, the Pacers came out with the 109-90 win, marking the Lakers' lowest point total of any game this season as well as the fewest points the Pacers held a team to this season, two huge accomplishments that emphasize just how fantastic Indiana's defense was on this night.

With that incredible defensive performance and win came a new achievement. For the first time since 2020 and the first time in Tyrese Haliburton's career, the Pacers clinched a winning record after the LA game gave them win number 42.

For Pacers fans, this was a long time coming. They had to sit through multiple failed lineup experiments, trades, injuries, and years of hope and disappointment to get where they are now. A bright young team, one of the best futures in the NBA, and a bonafide superstar to build around with another star looking to re-sign long-term.

For that superstar, win number 42 meant a little more than your average win. For Tyrese Haliburton, this win represented all he has worked for in his career. From humble beginnings as an under-the-radar prospect taken with the 12th pick, to a season and a half of little to no direction in Sacramento, to hope and subsequent injury in 2023, to another injury in 2024, to here.

Finally, a winner for the first time in his professional career despite all the hurdles, including another injury and subsequent slump, Tyrese Haliburton can look forward to hopefully playing playoff basketball for the first time in his career.

Trust me, Tyrese, we feel the same. With seven games left in the season, and the Pacers eyeing a first-round matchup with Cleveland, this season could very well go down as the start of something huge, or show a team well ahead of schedule, depending on what they do in April.

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