The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication
by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

Contact Kris Gardner for details pertaining to advertising on the website; the blogs; and / or the podcasts.

Rockets lose to Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers, 123-117

POSTED: December 26, 2023 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets lost 123-117 to the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night. The Rockets are 0-8 when allowing 120+ points this season.

Houston (15-13) trailed Indiana (15-14) by 8 (23-15) in the first quarter before tying the game at 29 and ending the quarter tied at 33 thanks to a steal and dunk by Rockets' forward Tari Eason.

Rockets' guard Aaron Holiday jump-started the Rockets with 5 quick points before assisting on a three-point basket by Eason. Then, Eason sank a pull-up three-pointer for a 46-42 Houston lead. with 9:12 remaining in the second quarter.

Houston's lead grew to 55-45 with 6:47 on the clock; however Pacers' guard Tyrese Haliburton scored 10 straight for the Pacers.

Houston led Indiana 67-64 at halftime.

Haliburton dominated the first 5 minutes in the third quarter with 13 of Indy's 17 points as the Pacers outscored the Rockets 17-7 to lead 81-74 with 6:45 on the clock. Haliburton made 3 three-pointers during his scoring barrage.

Houston scored 4 in a row; but, Buddy Hield made 2 threes during a 19-10 stretch as Houston's deficit grew to 12 (100-88) with 26.3 seconds left in the third quarter.

Houston trailed Indiana by 11 (101-90) heading to the fourth quarter.

Fred VanVleet scored 5 in a row to begin the fourth period. Jabari Smith Jr hit a jumper to cut the Rockets' deficit to only 4 (101-97). Four minutes later, Smith Jr cut to the basket and received a pass from VanVleet for a dunk to bring Houston within 1 (108-107) with 6:46 on the clock.

Three minutes later, Smith Jr tied the game at 113 with an 18-foot basket. Eason tied the game at 115 with a dunk before VanVleet sank a floater for a 117-115 Houston lead with 1:50 remaining in the game.

After a Pacers' timeout, Indiana big man Myles Turner made 2 free throws to tied. Turner got open in the paint after he slipped a screen.

On Houston's next possession, Alperen Sengun posted up Turner before passing the ball back to Smith Jr behind the three-point line. Jabari launched a three and missed. Haliburton made the Rockets pay. Haliburton got open on another high screen and splashed a 3 for a 120-117 Pacers' lead with 63 seconds remaining.

Houston didn't score in the final 63 seconds and Indy secured the victory.

Tyrese Haliburton finished the game with game-highs of 33 points and 10 assists. He has now scored 30+ points seven times this season after doing so six times in 2022-23.

Indiana made 19 three-pointers (43 attempts) in the game. Houston made 5 threes (24 attempts in the game. Houston is 14-3 when having more threes made than opponents this season and 1-10 when having as many or fewer.

After the game, Rockets Head Coach Ime Udoka said his team, once again, had difficulty defending a team who slips screens rather than setting screens.

"We don't stay locked in with our guy," Udoka commented. Obviously, if you don't get hit with a screen, you're not switching. So, that non-communication. We're not switching out led to wide-open threes.

"Slipping (screens) that some teams do a lot have hurt us this year," Udoka continued.

The Atlanta Hawks slipped screens a lot last week in Houston's 134-127 home loss to the Hawks.

"That's something we've gone over," Udoka remarked. "We've talked about and knew they (the Pacers) were very similar to Atlanta in the fact they slip out of everything. They probably set screens ten percent of the time.

"If you don't get hit by a screen, you don't switch it. We worked on that and talked about it. We gotta be better in that regard."


Alperen Sengun had 30 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists and a career-high tying 4 steals. The last Rocket to have posted those numbers in a game was James Harden (35/16/6/4) vs. Dallas on Jan. 31, 2020 and prior to that it was Hakeem Olajuwon (38/17/6/7) vs. Seattle on Mar. 10, 1987.

Sengun has scored 30+ points in consecutive games for the first time in his career and four times overall this season after doing so once his first two seasons combined. Tonight marked his 16th time scoring 20+ points this season, surpassing his total of 15 20-point games in 2022-23.

Tari Eason had 16 points and 8 rebounds off the bench while Aaron Holiday added 15 points. It marks the first time this season that Houston had two reserves score 15+ points in the same game.


The Rockets' next game is Wednesday, December 27, at home, against the Phoenix Suns. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time.

SUPPORT The Houston Roundball Review:

Purchase your Houston Rockets' gear at via this link;

Get ESPN+ via this link;

Save when you get the Disney bundle (ESPN+, Disney+ and Hulu) with this link;

OR, contribute via PayPal or the Cash App.

CLICK HERE for The HRR's Rockets' write-ups.

Click here to Support The HRR

The HRR's YouTube Channel

Ime Udoka says Jalen Green is second-guessing himself

Official Merchandise

Houston Roundball Review Merch

Shop at

HBCUs gear

Houston Cougars gear

Rice Owls gear

Texas A&M Aggies gear

Texas Longhorns gear

Texas Southern Tigers gear

Shop at

Houston Rockets gear

Shop at