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Pacers coach Rick Carlisle gives birthday present to Luka Doncic

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Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was asked whether or not he bought a birthday present for Luka Doncic, following Tuesday night’s 124-122 win over the Dallas Mavericks. His response was golden.

“Did you get Luka a birthday gift?” asked the reporter. “I brought him [Tyrese] Haliburton tonight,” replied Carlisle. Haliburton ended his outing with 32 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and one block in 35 minutes played.

According to a couple of NBA betting sites, the Pacers possess 31st-ranked odds to win the championship. While a playoff appearance is unlikely, Haliburton has fourth-best odds to win Most Improved Player of the Year.

Doncic celebrated his 24th birthday on Tuesday. Though, the Mavs superstar was not alone. Haliburton was born on a rare date. “It’s not really my birthday, but I’ll take it,” said the 23-year-old Pacers guard, born on Feb. 29, 2000. “We’ll celebrate it today. We’ll celebrate tomorrow. I get both days, but I don’t get a real day.”

Indiana outscored Dallas 38-26 in the second quarter. The Pacers finished 41-of-78 (52.6%) shooting from the floor and 11-of-28 (39.3%) beyond the arc. Myles Turner contributed 24 points, seven boards, one assist, one steal, and four blocks in 32 minutes of action.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle “brought” Tyrese Haliburton as a birthday present for Luka Doncic

Through 51 starts this season, Haliburton is averaging career highs of 20.1 points and 10.1 assists per game. Along with notching 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest, he’s shooting 48.2% from the field and 39.8% from deep.

Furthermore, the Pacers guard ranks third in assists (517), second in assists per game, fifth in offensive box plus/minus (6.5), and second in assist percentage (46.9%). At the moment, Carlisle’s former team is in a slump.

After this loss to the Pacers, Dallas is now 1-4 in the Kyrie Irving era. Irving logged 16 points and nine assists. However, the eight-time All-Star missed all four shots from downtown. “We still got, I think, some things to figure out, especially on the defensive end,” said Doncic.

The Slovenian guard closed out his performance with 39 points, eight rebounds, six dimes, and one block in 38 minutes. “I think we should be talking about the whole team because we play as a team,” added Doncic. “We win, we lose as a team. It’s not just about two players.”

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James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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