Myles Turner's dunk kicks off first NBA in-season tournament

ByTim Bontemps ESPN logo
Saturday, November 4, 2023

Myles Turner will go into the NBA's history books.

Turner's dunk off a pass from Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton 19 seconds into Friday night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers became the first basket scored in the history of the NBA's in-season tournament, which began with a slate of seven group stage games.

After years of debate over the possibility of the NBA having a tournament -- modeled off the ones that take place in European soccer and basketball leagues -- the long-time pet project of commissioner Adam Silver became a reality Friday. The slate of seven games marked the first of seven days of group stage games across the month of November, including the next three Fridays along with Nov. 14, 21 and 28. The tournament will see all 30 NBA teams play four games against groups drawn together based off last year's standings.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, speaking after his team's dramatic win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, said he was a fan of the tournament and credited the league for bringing intensity to the early part of the regular season.

"We talk about this in-season tournament and it's a playoff game," Green said. "It was a fun game to play in. The intensity level was there. It's a job well done to the NBA, adding this type of excitement in November, because there be some dark days in November, but you get games like this, you can appreciate them. It was great."

With Friday marking the first in-season tournament games, there also were a variety of firsts and records being set.

Among them included:

  • The first overtime game, courtesy of the final meeting of the night between the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazersin a Western Conference Group A matchup. Grizzlies forwardZiaire Williamswas called for a technical foul with 52.2 seconds remaining for celebrating a dunk. That helped kick off a run of five straight points to end regulation for Portland, which went on to claim a 115-113 overtime victory behind 26 points from Jerami Grant.Memphis, which was led by 33 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals from Desmond Bane, plus another 30 points and 10 rebounds from Jaren Jackson Jr., is now 0-6 on the season. It is the NBA's only winless team a week and a half into the season.
  • The first controversial finish, courtesy of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, whose layup with less than a second to go in Oklahoma City was counted after video review. Officials had initially called offensive interference on the play. Instead, Golden State escaped with a thrilling 141-139 win over the young Thunder, who were without All-NBA guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (knee).The Western Conference's Group C -- featuring Golden State, Oklahoma City, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs -- is shaping up to be the "group of death" of this year's tournament. Friday's action in OKC did nothing to alter that line of thinking.
  • The first win, which went to Turner and the Pacers, who utilized a late run to ultimately come away with a 121-116 victory in an Eastern Conference Group A game.The Pacers triumphed after a seesaw affair for 48 minutes ultimately swung in their favor with a late 12-1 run. Haliburton's step-back jumper with 17.1 seconds to go and a pair of free throws 10 seconds later put the game away.
  • The first 40-plus point game, as Jalen Brunson set the initial record for points in an in-season tournament game with 45 for the New York Knicks. It came in a losing effort, however, as the Bucks escaped with a 110-105 victory in an Eastern Conference Group B game. The Bucks went 20-for-39 from 3-point range, outscoring New York by 30 points from behind the arc on a night New York shot 39 percent from the field and a dismal 10-for-39 from 3.The game also saw Bucks centerBrook Lopez set the single-game blocks record with eight, repeatedly swatting away Knicks forays into the paint.The Bucks, who entered the night 29th in the NBA in defensive rating, looked more like their old selves against New York. There was a reason for that, according to a halftime interview on ESPN with Bucks coach Adrian Griffin: The team had reverted back to the drop coverage scheme it had utilized the past few years under former coach Mike Budenholzer, with Lopez being kept around the rim."I think the players sometimes are smarter than the coaches," Griffin said. "They wanted Brook in a drop, and I was smart enough to listen to them, and it's paying off tonight."
  • The first double-digit victory, as only one game -- the Denver Nuggets hosting the Dallas Mavericksin a Western Conference Group B matchup-- had more than a five-point margin of victory; three games were decided by just two points. Denver, however, emerged with a 125-114 victory over Dallas thanks to the latest spectacular performance by Nikola Jokic, who had 33 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists while shooting 14-for-16 from the field.
  • The first array of new-look courts for the in-season tournament, all specifically designed to standout for the event. Each one features a likeness of the NBA Cup, the trophy handed out for the event, in the lane at both ends, as well as at center court. But it was the wild variety of colors and how bold they were that really stood out.It certainly brought a different look to the action, though some of the courts -- particularly the bright blue one in Indiana and the bright red ones in Chicago and Miami -- were a bit difficult on the eyes on television.

In an Eastern Conference Group C game in Chicago, meanwhile, Bulls forward Patrick Williams was moved out of the starting lineup by coach Billy Donovan in favor of Torrey Craig after the former No. 4 overall pick had a disastrous start to the season. But while Williams was better Friday night, it wasn't enough for the Bulls to avoid losing 109-107 to the Brooklyn Nets. The game ended withZach LaVine missing a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer.Dorian Finney-Smith had 21 points to lead Brooklyn, while LaVine and DeMar DeRozan each had 24 for the Bulls.

Miami, meanwhile, snapped a four-game losing streak with a 121-111 home victory over Washington in an Eastern Conference Group B game. The Heat got 24 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists from Tyler Herro.

Brunson finished as the high-scorer of the day with those 45 points, and Lopez led the way with eight blocks.

Other stats category leaders included Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, who had 15 rebounds; Haliburton, Warriors guard Chris Paul and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who each had 13 assists; and Wizards guard Jordan Poole, Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving and Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane, who each had four steals.

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