Roy Hibbert’s demise has been put on hold.
The big man, who has struggled hugely since the playoffs began and scored zero points in three of his last four games, exploded Wednesday night to score 28 points and grab 9 rebounds, almost exceeding his points total from the entire playoffs in one night.
Riding Hibbert, the Pacers held off the Washington Wizards for an 86-82 home win to tie the series ahead of Game 3 in Washington.
With Hibbert playing well and the crowd responding to his renewed energy, the Pacers’ defense bit down hard on the Wizards, holding them to just 23.8 percent shooting from behind the arc, a key part of their offense. Washington hit just five of 21 attempts.
John Wall struggled with his shot throughout the game and had a string of poor plays as the game clock wound down. He first missed a three early in the shot-clock before missing another pull-up three in transition when a lane to the basket was waiting.
His final mistake would be allowing George Hill to strip him on one of the final plays of the game, effectively sealing the deal.
Paul George was also ineffective, scoring just 11 points and grabbing six rebounds and dishing four assists. Lance Stephenson added 12 points, 7 rebounds and five assists.
With Hibbert able to hold down the paint and protect the rim well for the first time all playoffs, the Pacers perimeter players were able to commit to holding Washington’s speedy backcourt and deadly shooters in check.
The next hurdle for Hibbert will be recreating this performance, or something resembling it, on the road at the Verizon Center over the weekend as Indiana looks to regain homecourt advantage.
Nene continued to make the most of the shots given to him by the Pacers as he finished with 14 points on 7-14 shooting. Marcin Gortat ran the pick and roll with his guards to perfection, leading the Wizards with 21 points on 10-15 from the floor to go with 11 rebounds.
Roy Hibbert: 28 points, 10-13 FGS, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks
Lance Stephenson: 12 points, 3-12 FGS, 7 rebounds, 5 assists
Paul George: 11 points, 5-13 FGS, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
Marcin Gortat: 21 points, 10-15 FGS, 11 rebounds
Bradley Beal: 17 points, 7-15 FGS, 7 assists
Nene: 14 points, 7-14 FGS, 5 rebounds
Game 3 @WAS: Friday, May 9th. Tip: 8pm ET