During the fourth quarter of the Cavs-Pacers game, Haliburton started hearing chirping from an older fan that didn’t like that he was arguing calls with officials.
Haliburton’s father is an official, so the Pacers guard tries to be as respectful as he can when talking to refs. Still, the Cavs fan didn’t like it, and he ended up motivating Haliburton to close out Cleveland.
“I needed some external motivation to get myself going,” Haliburton said. “I won’t say verbatim what he said, but he told me to basically stop whining. I’m like, ‘I’m a grown man. You’re not just going to talk to me how you want to.’ And, ‘You’re a grown man, too. You ask questions at your job. Don’t tell me how to do my job.’ It carried through from there. I had to talk to him to get myself going.”
The Pacers ended up beating the Cavs 125-113 on Saturday to move to 2-0 on the season. The loss was Cleveland’s second straight defeat.
Haliburton really started to get things going around the 3:43 mark in the fourth quarter. The Cavs had cut the Pacers’ lead to two, but Haliburton knocked down a 3-pointer to create some separation.
The Pacers guard then proceeded to celebrate by gesturing to quiet the crowd. An All-Star last season, Haliburton is blossoming into one of the best guards in the NBA in the eyes of many.
Following that possession, Haliburton pleaded with an official after Myles Turner picked up his fifth foul. Then, he was seen having a discussion with a fan that was opposite of Cleveland’s bench. The former lottery pick showed no signs of slowing down from there, hitting a couple more 3-pointers and helping his team pull away.
Haliburton finished Saturday’s game with 21 points (4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range), eight rebounds and 13 assists. So far this season, Haliburton has 24 assists in two games, showing just how elite he is as a playmaker.
The fan that was bothered by Haliburton’s pleading with officials may regret lighting a fire under the Pacers guard, as it evidently played a role in Cleveland’s second loss of the season. The Cavs were already in a tough spot entering the game, as Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen all missed the contest.
Cleveland will look to bounce back against the New York Knicks on Tuesday.