Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton among the starters for All-Star Game in Indy

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton was named an Eastern Conference starter Thursday night when the All-Star Game starters were announced on TNT.

The weekend figures to be a big occasion for Haliburton with the Feb. 18 All-Star Game being held in Indianapolis.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named captain of the East team while LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers was named captain of the West.

Antetokounmpo was named to his eighth All-Star Game. Joining him as starters for the East are Joel Embiid (seventh selection) of the Philadelphia 76ers, Jayson Tatum (fifth) of the Boston Celtics, Damian Lillard (eight) of the Milwaukee Bucks and Haliburton (second).

James was named to the All-Star team for a record 20th time. He snapped a tie with legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was selected 19 times.

Joining James in the West starting lineup are Kevin Durant (14th) of the Phoenix Suns, Nikola Jokic (sixth) of the Denver Nuggets, Luka Doncic (fifth) of the Dallas Mavericks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (second) of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Three West starters rank in the top five in scoring. Doncic is second at 33.6 points per game, Gilgeous-Alexander is fourth at 31.1 and Durant sits fifth at 29.1. Gilgeous-Alexander has scored 30 or more points on a league-high 32 occasions.

Doncic, who hails from Slovenia, said he never could watch the All-Star Game while growing up.

“When I was a kid, I always tried to watch the All-Star Game but my parents wouldn’t let me because it was 3 a.m.,” Doncic said on TNT.

“I just wanted to be in the NBA, that’s all. My first year (in the NBA), I didn’t know what to expect. But I was just happy to be here to play basketball.”

Embiid leads the NBA with a 36.1 scoring average and set a 76ers franchise record earlier this week with a 70-point game against the San Antonio Spurs. Antetokounmpo is third at 31.3.

Lillard is in first season with Milwaukee after making the West All-Star team seven times as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Tatum, who is ninth in scoring at 27 points per game, said he was appreciative to be picked. He was MVP of last season’s game when he scored an All-Star record 55 points on 22-of-31 shooting.

“You never went to take it for granted, right?” Tatum told TNT before the Celtics’ game against the host Miami Heat. “There are 450 guys in the league and the fans who consistently vote for me, it’s truly an honor.

“I grew up wanting to be in All-Star Weekend every year and to live out that dream in real time is pretty cool.”

Haliburton is expected to be healthy for All-Star weekend. He missed five games with a hamstring injury and returned for Friday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He reinjured the hamstring and has missed the past three games, including Thursday’s home game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Haliburton is averaging 23.6 points and leads the NBA with 12.6 assists per game.