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Roy Hibbert proves worth to Pacers
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On May 5, 2013 @ 11:24 pm In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Bob Kravitz, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — So that’s why they gave Roy Hibbert all that money. For games like this. For series like this. For days when he can stand like a sentry at the basket, blocking shots, altering shots, frustrating Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, being the biggest of all the big men in the Pacers tough, immaculate 102-95 Game 1 victory over the New York Knicks.
There are a lot of reasons why the Pacers took Game 1 — not stole Game 1, but took it, along with the Knicks’ lunch money — including balanced scoring, thunderous inside play, Lance Stephenson’s floor game and a where-did-that-come-from performance from D.J. Augustin.
But Hibbert, who is almost always the biggest guy in the room, was the biggest reason for this victory. The moment and the venue were not too big for any of the Pacers, and certainly not their center, who historically has struggled at Madison Square Garden.
“That’s a big reason why we (paid him all that money),” coach Frank Vogel said. “… He’s one of the best rim protectors in the game. He’s really grown and learned how to understand angles and getting no calls, playing without fouling and staying in the game. All the analytics say he’s the toughest guy in the league to score against at the rim.”
Time after time, Anthony or Smith would come rolling into the lane, and time after time, Hibbert sent them away unhappy. By the third quarter, Anthony reached the point of distraction, continually complaining about no-calls at the basket.
Back in the day, Hibbert was a foul waiting to happen. But he’s grown exponentially as a defensive force, learning how to go up straight, armed upraised, learned how to defend without fouling.
“It’s tiring to have someone constantly running into you at full speed and you have to take the hit and try not to fall back too hard and get back into the play,” Hibbert said. “Melo is one of the best. I’ve watched film on him and when he attacks me, he likes to tip the ball right back in if he misses. It’s a tough … [For more on Roy Hibbert proves his worth to Pacers in Game 1, click here.]
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