THE LEAD: Following the worst playoff game of his career with one of the best, Hibbert broke loose for 28 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to an 86-82 victory over Washington in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series Wednesday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Scoreless in the Pacers’ (56-26) Game 1 loss, and in three of his previous four games, Hibbert shot 10-for-13, adding nine rebounds and two blocked shots in a dominant performance Indiana desperately needed. He wound up one point shy of matching the postseason career high he set in Game 2 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals in Miami. Marcin Gortat scored 21 to lead the Wizards (44-38), who still take homecourt advantage back to Washington for Games 3 and 4.
QUOTABLE: “First of all, he made a decision that he’s going to step up and sometimes you have a game where the ball bounces your way or the coverage leaves you as the open man. Sometimes, you don’t. We didn’t call any more plays for Roy tonight than we have all series. That’s the remarkable thing. He did it on his own. When you play with a certain level of force, the ball finds you.”
— Indiana coach Frank Vogel on Hibbert
THE STAT: John Wall has shot 6-for-27 overall and missed all seven of his 3-point shots in the two games.
TURNING POINT: Bradley Beal‘s jumper put the Wizards up 77-74 with 5:01 remaining, but Hibbert responded with a drive down the middle of the lane to spark an 8-2 Indiana run that included a dunk and a clock-beater from Paul George to put the Pacers in front 82-79. Both teams then came up empty on their next three possessions but George Hill’s steal of a Wall drive was followed by a Lance Stephenson jumper that made it a two-possession game with 21.4 seconds left. Beal answered with a tough pull-up 3 to make it a two-point game but David West made a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining to seal the verdict.
QUOTABLE II: “I felt that I put a lot of pressure on myself to get going and I don’t want to get into excuses. I think I was making a lot of excuses throughout the second half of the season and the playoffs so I decided to take it into my own hands and change it around.”
— Indiana’s Roy Hibbert
GOOD MOVE: As Hibbert’s slump extended from the second half of the regular season into the playoffs, Vogel attracted almost as much criticism as the struggling center for not pulling him from the starting lineup. Vogel’s faith was finally rewarded Hibbert’s highest-scoring game of the season.
BAD MOVE: With the Wizards down three, Wall missed a pair of quick 3-point attempts before losing the ball to Hill on his errant drive in the final minute.
HOT: Hibbert and backup Ian Mahinmi combined to shoot 13-for-17.
NOT: After making all six of his 3-pointers in Game 1, Trevor Ariza was 2-for-7 from the arc as the Wizards were 5-for-21 (.238) as a team after going 10-for-16 in the opener.
QUOTABLE III: “Roy came out and had a heck of a game, one that we all know he’s capable of having. We didn’t do the job that we have of not letting him catch the ball where he wants and getting him off his spot 4-5 feet and they took advantage of it, no question about it.”
— Wizards coach Randy Wittman
NOTABLE: Washington missed seven of its 12 free-throw attempts. … Indiana is 4-0 after losses in this postseason. … Nene limped out of the game midway through the first quarter with an apparent sprained left ankle but returned midway through the second and wound up scoring 14 points in 36 minutes. … Hibbert’s coach at Georgetown, John Thompson III, as well as agent David Falk sat together at courtside. … Hibbert’s regular-season high was 27 on Nov. 23 against Philadelphia. …George scored 11 with six rebounds, four assists and two steals. … Beal finished with 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds. … The Wizards again outrebounded the Pacers and had 11 offensive boards but converted them into just four points. … Washington had a single fast-break point and has been outscored 30-15 in the series. … Indiana committed just eight turnovers leading to a single Washington point. … Hibbert had attempted eight free throws in the previous eight playoff games, but was 8-for-8 tonight.
UP NEXT: Game 3 is Friday in Washington, Game 4 is Sunday in Washington.