8 Winners and losers from NBA In-Season Tournament semifinals, including LeBron James

The inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament is wrapping up this week in Las Vegas. It’s been a smashing success for commissioner Adam Silver and Co. as teams vie for the first ever NBA Cup.

Thursday represented the first ever semifinals with the Indiana Pacers taking on the Milwaukee Bucks to open things up and the Los Angeles Lakers going against the New Orleans Pelicans to conclude the doubleheader inside T-Mobile Arena.

The upstart Pacers shocked the NBA world be defeating a championship contender in that of the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 128-119. Suddenly one of the game’s best players, Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton shined above the rest. He scored 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting while adding seven rebounds and a whopping 15 assists.

While Giannis Antetokounmpo (37 points) did his thing, it was not enough for Milwaukee to defeat a high-scoring Pacers squad.

The later game saw LeBron James and his Lakers run New Orleans off the court by the score of 133-89. It was a 40-point game midway through the third quarter.

As James did his thing, the Pelicans’ “big three” came up small. Zion Williamson did not rise to the occasion. Former Lakers lottery pick Brandon Ingram also struggled in the 44-point loss.

Here, we look at eight winners and losers from the semifinals of the 2023-24 NBA In-Season Tournament.

Related: NBA In-Season Tournament, top scorers and an all-tournament team

Winner: Myles Turner steps up for the Indiana Pacers

nba in-season tournament winners and losers: myles turner

This defensive-minded center entered Thursday’s action averaging a solid 16.6 points for a Pacers squad that leads the NBA in scoring. He took it up another level going up against veteran Brook Lopez and the Bucks, scoring 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting. That included hitting two three-pointers while adding three blocks.

If Indiana is able to get this type of production in the championship game against Los Angeles, the Pacers are going to be hard to beat. Moving forward in the regular season, his ability to chip in 20-plus behind Haliburton will only make Indiana a much more serious contender back east.

Loser: Zion Williamson fails to show out in Sin City

nba in-season tournament: zion williamson, new orleans pelicans

The Williamson hype train was derailed Thursday night as quick as a bettors’ hope of striking it rich in Las Vegas. He started out the game strong with eight points in the first quarter. After that? Well, Williamson was pretty much invisible. He ended the game scoring 13 points while converting on 6-of-8 shots.

If Williamson wants to be seen as an actual star in this league, he can’t disappear like this. Someone who has an ability to be absolutely dominant shouldn’t be taking eight shots in a game. It really is that simple.

Related: Indiana Pacers “shocking the world” in NBA In-Season Tournament

Winner: Tyrese Haliburton shines in NBA In-Season Tournament

nba in-season tournament winners and losers: tyrese haliburton

Already setting records this season, Haliburton vastly outplayed Damian Lillard as his upstart Pacers clinched a spot in Saturday’s championship game. The dude dropped 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out a whopping 15 assists. He also shot a solid 11-of-19 from the field and provided plenty of entertainment for fans in Las Vegas.

Haliburton really should be in the NBA MVP conversation. If he leads Indiana to the championship over a giant in LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday evening, that’ll be magnified further.

Related: Damian Lillard provides warning to Tyrese Haliburton after “Dame Time” celebration

Loser: Damian Lillard comes up small for Milwaukee Bucks

NBA: In Season Tournament-Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks

Lillard scored 24 points on 20 shots Thursday afternoon in Vegas. That’s not what we’d call being efficient. He also hit on just 3-of-11 from inside the three-point line. We understand full well that it takes time to gel in a new system. But we’re now 22 games into Dame’s tenure with the Bucks and there are still some issues in this regard.

The fact that Lillard was vastly outplayed by Tyrese Haliburton in the NBA In-Season Tournament semifinals was eye-opening. It likely won’t mean much down the stretch. But it was pretty darn surprising.

Winner: Adam Silver was right about NBA In-Season Tournament

NBA: Mexico City Game-Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic

You know what? Adam Silver was 100% correct that this tournament would be a smashing success. After initial push back from stars such as LeBron James, they took to this tournament in a big way. The games were competitive. No star players rested as the tourney played out. Arenas had playoff-like atmospheres.

“This is a concept that has been rumbling around the league office for about 15 years,” Silver said when announcing the tournament this past summer. “It’s not a new concept in sports. For those that follow particularly international soccer, it’s a long tradition of having in-season tournaments … so we thought, what a perfect opportunity for a global league like the NBA and it’s a perfect fit for our game.”

We’re sure that the NBA would have loved to see the Bucks and Lakers in Saturday’s championship game. If nothing else, for the ratings and intrigue. No matter what some say, this is not a simulation. Indiana’s win over Milwaukee proved that. It also added more drama heading into the weekend in Vegas.

Related: Updated NBA power rankings

Loser: Buddy Hield proves to be continued drag on Pacers

NBA: In Season-Practice

We read the rumors about the Pacers looking to trade Hield ahead of the 2023-24 season. Instead, he was in the starting lineup Thursday night for Indiana. It did not go swimmingly. Hield shot just 3-of-11 from the field and missed on all six of his three-point shots.

It’s surprising. Four of Indiana’ fives starters finished negative in the plus-minus category. All five of those who came off the bench were in the positive. Perhaps, it’s time for head coach Rick Carlisle to turn to former lottery pick Bennedict Mathurin in the starting five.

Related: 5 reasons Los Angeles Lakers will win NBA In-Season-Tournament

Winner: LeBron James proves he is King for Los Angeles Lakers

nba in-season tournament winners and losers: lebron james

James was absolutely dominant in Los Angeles’ win over the Phoenix Suns in the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament Tuesday night. GOAT dropped 31 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out 11 assists and recorded five steals. It was one of the best all-around performances from a Lakers player since the great Kobe Bryant.

Well, King James did not disappoint in the semifinals. The dude was brilliant once again. After scoring just three points in the first quarter, James went off to the tune of 30 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He also recorded five rebounds and eight assists while hitting on all four of his threes in just 23 minutes of action. The dude was on one in Sin City.

Showing us how how much he still has it, the Lakers finished plus-36 in James’ 23 minutes of action as this one was put away in the third quarter. Yeah, James is well on his way to winning the first ever MVP in this tournament. He’ll take it, too.

“If you give us an opportunity to play for something meaningful with an incentive, then you’ll get what you’re getting,” LeBron James said before the semifinals. “I know the competitive nature in myself.”

Loser: New Orleans Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram bombs against former team

NBA: In Season Tournament-New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers

We’re sure that Ingram wanted to make a statement against the very same team that included him in the blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis years back. He can’t have a great feeling about how it ended in Southern California, especially with the aforementioned James spearheading that trade.

Well, Ingram did not make that statement. He dropped just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting while turning the ball over three times. New Orleans finished minus-33 in his 31 minutes of action, too. What a disaster class.

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