For the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday night signaled the return of Roy Hibbert. The once dominant center led the Pacers to an 86-82 victory that ties the series at one game apiece.
Hibbert didn’t just lead the Pacers, he led all scorers with 28 points off an unreal 10-for-13 shooting. Hibbert showed up with energy and focus, scoring the team’s first five points and playing with a level of passion not seen since last year.
Hibbert also hauled in nine rebounds and a pair of blocks. He was very effective from the free throw line, going 8-for-8.
In post game, Hibbert praised teammate Paul George for having his back and clearing his mind yesterday between games. It showed that these players still have each others back and helps to dispel the rumors that have been plaguing the team in recent weeks.
“I think this one was attributed to Paul’s love and care for me as a friend and teammate,” Hibbert said.
While Hibbert was dominant, George struggled all night long. He connected on just 5-of-13 shots from the field for 11 points. He also had six rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals.
David West also had an off night. He had just nine points off 33-percent shooting. West also had six rebounds.
The Pacers can’t afford for West and George to have an off night at the same time. They won’t win consistently when that happens. While Trevor Ariza has long give George problems, he still has to find a way to get open and hit shots. West is one of the better power forwards in the NBA and should be able to hit open shots and attack the rim at will.
Both players need to step up if the Pacers are going to have a shot in this series.
George Hill was in attack mode all night, but had a few unfortunate misses because physics apparently hates him. Hill shot 50-percent for 14 points. He appeared to have a much bigger impact than his stat line would suggest.
Hill spent the bulk of the night guarding John Wall, and basically shutting him down. Wall had just six points off 2-of-13 shooting. He did dish out eight assists, but when he isn’t hitting jumpers, Washington’s offense starts to struggle.
Lance Stephenson had one of the weirdest stat lines you will ever see. He was just 3-for-12 from the field, but hit his last three attempts. Two of those shots were three points and the final one, which basically iced the game, was nearly from the arc as well. Stephenson finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
The Pacers got very little from the bench tonight, an area where they should have an advantage. Luis Scola continues to be inconsistent and Evan Turner is basically useless on the court. Only Ian Mahinmi and C.J. Watson have proven to be effective with anything resembling consistency.
While the Pacers earned the must-win game, there are still some areas of concern. The Wizards managed to out-rebound the Pacers once again, holding a five rebound edge. The real spot of concern in on the offensive glass, where Washington had 11 rebounds.
That advantage led to eight more shots for Washington (and four more made field goals) and the Pacers had to make up the difference from the free throw line.
The series now moves to the nation’s capital with the two team’s facing off again on Friday night. Tip-off is at 8PM with the broadcast on ESPN.