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Roy Hibbert benched for second half, has come to symbolize Pacers’ collapse

Apr 7, 2014, 1:16 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Memphis Grizzlies Getty Images

Roy Hibbert was just flat out bad Sunday.

Zero points, zero rebounds, one turnover — that turnover was enough for coach Frank Vogel to bench him starting midway through the second quarter, never to see the court again. Hibbert’s struggles — both to get the ball where and when he wants it, then to do anything with it when he does — mirrors a Pacers team that has fallen apart. A Pacers team that scored just 23 first half points and got thumped by the Atlanta Hawks 107-88 Sunday. That’s a new low for a Pacers team that is in utter collapse.

Hibbert was the symbol of everything that has gone wrong. It wasn’t that he took bad shots — he got deep position at times just missed the shots, he missed a running hook he used to hit regularly, he missed a couple jumpers from 12 feet out on the wing that he used to hit. He’s still 7’2” but grabbed no rebounds in nine minutes of play. When he got benched he was disconnected from the team the rest of the night — he was a couple minutes late out of the locker room for the second half, he didn’t take part in team huddles, mostly he just sat their like a statue.

After the game all Hibbert said was this, via the Indy Star.

“I got nothing to say,” Hibbert muttered.

He was clearly mad. Vogel tried to put a good face on it.

“I considered resting Roy before tonight’s game because he looks worn down, he’s a 7-2 player that’s played every game this year, which is very rare,” Vogel said. “He looks to me to be worn down. He’s giving good effort, but he looks to me to be worn down.”

He’s not completely wrong, the Pacers look and are playing tired. Did you watch the lethargic first six minutes from their starters against the Hawks? The Pacers made their priority getting the No. 1 seed in the East this season and played hard pretty much every night for the first 50 games or so and that appears to have taken a severe toll. Also, they really have had nothing to play for of consequence for a long time.

Now all that losing and lack of interest has grown and festered into something more serious — locker room chemistry issues. Big ones. Players are pointing fingers and sniping at each other. They are playing selfishly, they get no easy points (not in transition or the half court), and they just are missing shots they used to hit.

Hibbert is right in the middle of that.

He has been part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Keep playing like this and the Hawks or Bobcats could be a legitimate threat in the playoffs.

Vogel needs to rest a few guys down the stretch — what matters now is getting rested and healthy not the seed (they aren’t going to fall below the two seed). Then they get into the playoffs, where the slowed-down flow better suits their style of play. Get a win, pick up a little momentum, start to feel good about themselves and it is possible bounce back. It’s a long road, but it’s possible.

None of that is happening without a lot better play from Hibbert. He is key for them and he needs to start playing like it.

  1. campcouch - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:30 AM

    Andrew Bynum.

    • kinggw - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:57 AM

      Bynum has absolutely nothing to do with their slump. If the Pacers want to blame someone they should blame Larry Bird. He tried to fix something that wasn’t broke and the results speak for themselves. The Pacers’ chemistry was one of the things that made them a great team. Bird killed that chemistry with the Granger trade.

      The Pacers still have time to turn things around, luckily for them they play the Heat this week. That always seems to bring them together.

      • campcouch - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:17 AM

        all I said was Andrew Bynum. Take it how you want.

      • lenbias34pt - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:39 AM

        PLEASE correct me if i’m wrong, but Bird retired from the pacers a few years back but when it became clear they have as much talent as any NBA team he came back…………..and went on to ruin the team!

        At this point Scola is a fringe NBA player who hasn’t helped , while Plumlee and Green have put the Suns on the brink of the playoffs in Phoenix.

        Plumlee is superior to Scola on D and in rebounding, while i think most would agree Green is the superior player to E Turner in every way.

        Bringing in Bynum borders on insanity. The pacers have one of the best back up centers in the NBA and Bynum is injured and among the lowest character individuals in sports!

        Larry Bird is one of the many untouchables in sports. It will take a JOURNALIST with intelligence and character to step forward……

      • qckappa - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:57 PM

        Absolutely correct! At least in my outsider’s view. lol

      • qckappa - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM

        I mean that I agree with kinggw about the chemistry issue. Plus Grainger was a proven player, an all star that could match up against Lebron and hold his own. A significant loss when you consider they traded Grainger for a younger unproven player.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      hahaha! This comment is an opportunity for quiet reflection on the self; or perhaps it’s fightin’ words! How dare you bespeak that name in a column about the Pacer’s collapse! That’s it; you’ve given me my new mantra. Andrewwwww Byyyynuuuummmmmmm.

  2. sammadison - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:32 AM

    Pacers are done.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      What is the purpose of that comment? It’s blatantly false; they are not done because they have not yet been beaten 4 times in any one playoff series. So how can you really think that? I’m honestly curious; how many teams do you think has a shot at the title? I would say Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Heat, Pacers, and I would even consider long-shots Nets & Rockets. After the Mavericks won in 2011 I can’t just declare “Blank team is done” anymore.

      • xLith - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        Keep in mind that the 2011 Mavs didn’t stumble into the postseason losing 7 of 10 games (at this point) either. Dirk was on a tear going into the postseason. The Pacers are nearly in a free fall.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:45 PM

        @xLith I was only using the Mavericks as an example of a team that shocked everybody by winning a title. They choked in the 2006 Finals then lost in the first round 3 of the next 4 seasons, often as heavy favorites. Then out of nowhere Dirk found his clutchness and the team gelled perfectly for a title run. So I’m saying let’s not say things like “The Pacers are done” when they still have the talent to contend for a title.

      • qckappa - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:09 PM

        I wasn’t shocked that the Mavs run the title that year. The Nets don’t have enough to win that many games, Joe Johnson is not clutch, that’s why Atlanta let him go. Deron Williams gets nervous against Wade, have you ever seen him when Wade matches up against him, sad, no heart. That leaves Garnett and Pierce to carry them. Not enough firepower between the two of them, Garnett shoots too many jumpers to consistently score 20, way too many fade aways. There is plenty of time left for Indy to get it together but chemistry is very imp and Bird messed it up. Miami is vulnerable right now because they have not been playing that well either but they are the champs and they know how to turn it on and they definitely have clutch players. IMO it will be the Clippers over the Heat, but don’t discount San Anton. OKC and Hou don’t have the necessary low post game scoring or defense.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      Toast

    • pharohislife - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Nets and Heat. That’s the Prime Matchup in the East playoffs now.

  3. prareedoggin - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:44 AM

    It seems they should have a veteran leader to snap them out of it. A presence in the locker room and someone that the team listens to and respect because he’s been there thru it all (a chemistry with). Oh wait… They did…. They traded that guy lol

    • wupsumskul - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:36 AM

      David West?

  4. innovativethinking87 - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:52 AM

    Whatever happened to Paul George?

    • unfly - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:02 AM

      Stripper knock up + catfish incident

    • casualcommenter - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:29 AM

      I think a lot of things have gone on to explain George’s decline compared to earlier this year.

      Some of it is regression to the mean because he was unlikely to keep shooting such a high percentage from 3 and from mid-range, some of it is off-field distractions like unfly said, some of it is opposing teams gearing up to play the Pacers once the Pacers were crowned as an elite team this year, and some of it is other players like Hibbert and West having down seasons that make it easier for teams to gear up to stop George.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      We anointed him ‘superstar’ a tad too early. I believe he’ll still get there, but right now he’s just not as good of a ball handler/shooter as he needs to be to truly dominate.

    • brookwell2013 - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      MIA……….excellent question innovative! What in the world has happened to Paul George??!?? I can’t remember a guy falling so far so fast….cheesh.

    • doctordunkenstein - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      BEST 2 WAY PLAYER IN THE NBA

      LOL what a joke

      • rodyaugu - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        By two way they meant making joke of himself off the court and on the court.

  5. beach305 - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:55 AM

    It’s all comes back to maturity or lack thereof. This not just a hibbert issue but a team wide. Getting pysco during games like Lance and West do is a double edge sword. It’s great when you are wining and the fans love it, but when things go wrong …….

  6. hungryhungryhibbert - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:21 AM

    Well, Paul George is clearly out
    of it, he is about to lose a lot of
    money too with his next contract requiring him to be a third nba team or better gaurd. I can name plenty of players more interested in bball and winning then him right now. They all turned into baby D wades crying all the time for fouls. Play the game, game went to their heads. Vogel isn’t the coach we thought he was without Brian shaw. )not that he is doing all that well either) granger can’t really be the glue can he?? I mean I wouldn’t have traded bin but really?? I think there is more to this which brings us to lance, love the dude, but calm down and don’t play so much street ball in the half court. in the full court yea, by all means, please do! In the half court then all has to move, this goes for all of the players. However, shots just aren’t falling! is that karma, or lack of effort, or what? heu, they use to hit those shots. I

    • delmarbriere - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      LOL. An expert at his finest. You are a moron sir. Do you even watch basketball?

  7. casualcommenter - Apr 7, 2014 at 3:25 AM

    The Pacers have only 4 games left, against the Bucks, Heat, Thunder, and Magic. If the Pacers lose to either the Bucks or the Heat, they should just take the rest of the regular season off.

    They’ve clinched a top-2 seed in the East, but they look burnt out and are playing increasingly worse as the playoffs near. If they lose to the Bucks or the Heat this week, the Pacers would have then have to beat the OKC Thunder to have any shot at claiming the number 1 seed over the Heat, which is unlikely given how they’re playing.

    They’d be better off giving their top guys both a mental and physical vacation by resting them than further burning out their players with no hope of winning the number 1 seed. Both the Bucks and Heat games are must-win for the Pacers to have any justification to keep playing their starters the next few games.

  8. Jeff - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:30 AM

    Vogel also benched the starters after the 6-minute mark in the first. It’s a sad decline
    Not only are the Pacers missing shots, they are also not playing their trademark defense from earlier this season.
    Even with Vogel resting his players, I still don’t see the Pacers getting out of the first round.
    Bird said the Pacers are “all in” for this season. So what does it mean if they don’t win it all? Blow up the team and start over? Sad days for the Pacers and their fans.

  9. bballhistorian - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:02 AM

    Pacers (ie Larry Bird) thought he could just add “anyone” and trade away whoever, just to get more pieces to beat Miami, and Miami alone.

    At the end of the day, he’s going to learn that locker room chemistry is just as important as the talent on the floor.

    And for someone like Larry Legend, he shouldve known that by now…

    • adamsjohn714 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:32 AM

      Locker room chemistry isn’t as important as the talent on the floor. Coaching isn’t as important as the talent on the floor. Nothing is as important as the talent on the floor, and the Pacers don’t have talented enough offensive players to generate quality looks on a consistent basis. They’re struggling for very tangible reasons, and people don’t want to see it because they were anointed as the best team in the NBA after the first month of the season. Rather than take a look back and admit that maybe they got burned by the early call, everyone searches for these “reasons” that the Pacers are struggling. The idea that maybe this is somewhat who they are hasn’t crossed peoples’ minds.

      • mrhonorama - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:19 AM

        One wonders who Bird could look at the team and determine what it needed was a mediocre 2 guard and a basket case center, rather than a point guard who can penetrate and hit some outside shots.

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:14 AM

        It has crossed peoples’ minds, but it trips over the fact that the Pacers were anointed before the season. There was thread after thread here (mirroring major media talk) about how the Pacers were doing so much more to improve their roster in the off-season than the Heat were theirs. The early season didn’t create the expectation: it merely strengthened it. For the true believers, everything was grist for the mill. The Heat signing of Oden had showed how worried the Heat were about the Pacers; while the Pacers later signing of Bynum somehow didn’t suggest any worry, but rather showed how clever the Pacers management were to keep Bynum off the Heat (yes – as laughable as that seems now, some people said it, and they weren’t newbies). Everything was spun to fit the narrative so desperately important to some that the Heat were in serious trouble. I’m far from sure, but I suspect that that angle may have served as fuel for much of the hype.

      • bougin89 - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        You are right that talent on the floor is the most important but to disgard team chemistry and coaching is just wrong and we’ve already been through this.

        One of the only guys you’ve ever said was “good” on the Pacers is George Hill. Offensively the lack of a playmaking PG is what’s really doing this team in. West and Hibbert don’t get as many easy looks at the basket as they should. They have no movement on offense because they really struggle to create any offense(good looks) by someone either driving and kicking or driving and finishing at the rim consistently. Lance is the closest thing they have to a playmaker. Otherwise during their slump it’s been watch George take out of rhythm/contested jumpers or dump it down to Hibbert and stand and stare at him. Both of their struggles have really been amplified lately.

  10. lifegoesonmyfriend - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:28 AM

    Indiana Pacers 2013-2014 roster was built for the heat.

    How about the other teams?

  11. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    They should have given the fans “Beat The Hawks” cards to hold up.

  12. haaaaasoooooo - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:19 AM

    The sad point is: they will still back into the ECF. Which is really pathetic, because if they were in the west, they wouldn’t make it out of the second round (and possibly get beat in the first). They look like a team whose best player is not their leader. Backward locker rooms implode at crucial times.

  13. cashtext4all.com - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    I had a feeling this wasn’t going to last so I’m telling you this ” I told you so”

  14. indyzown - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Yea I guess Roy would be a little tired , he’s definitely not 100 percent… The NBA just let LeBron Elbow him in the chin… (no fine no supension .. free shot ) isnt that illegal in a Ufc match ? Then he’s had a few hard falls lately … they will still beat the heat

    • southbeachtalent - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      hahahahaha lingering effects from the elbow two weeks ago!

    • ganksus - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:12 PM

      I seem to recall one Lebron James being hit in the face and left bleeding on the floor while no one got a foul. He did not whine nor complain but continued to score his basket and come back prepared for the next match without any excuses. What did Hibbert do again?

  15. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    I enjoyed Zach Lowe’s recent article about the Pacers struggles. He gives several examples of what the Pacers are doing wrong now that they weren’t doing wrong earlier this season… and they all had to do with Roy Hibbert. Check it out: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/how-to-fix-the-pacers/

    • tashab03 - Apr 8, 2014 at 8:26 PM

      YES. I believe he is a great majority of the issue. On AND off the court.

  16. jbeagles23 - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    The pacers were built to beat the heat but won’t get their shot cause they’re going to lose to the raptors in the second round

  17. jzone954 - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    No more pacers in 5 indytown?

  18. 12444uggg - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Vogel benching Roy was the best news coming out of the Pacers camp in the last few months.
    There is a punitive element to it, but it’s also clear the guy can’t get anything done right now. Give him rest, take the two seed and try to turn it on in a few weeks. There’s nothing else to be done.

  19. urodaddy07 - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Roy Hibbert is in fact a limited big man. He is a 7’2″ big man who can barely dunk the ball. Short guys block him., he has a very unreliable jump shot, a temperamental inside game. He is just too slow and unathlethic to dominate on the inside consistently. He is averaging 11 points and less than 7 rebounds a game. And this is a guy who plays big minutes. If he was 3 inches shorter he wouldn’t make the team. He is a solid but not even near elite big man.

    • bougin89 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:31 PM

      Hibbert is an elite rim protector and a good rebounder. That’s what he’s paid for. He’s OK on offense and is really good/great against the Heat. That’s what he’s paid for.

      Try watching him play sometime instead of just looking at his counting stats. The Pacers have 5 good rebounders in their starting lineup. It’s why George’s rebounds are down, West’s rebounds are down, etc. Plus the way the Pacers slow down games they tend to have less rebound opportunities.

      Lebron is listed as a PF on most websites. Lebron averages 6.6 rpg per 36 mins this year. Hibbert averages 8.1(his career low) per 36 mins this year. Nobody in their right mind would claim Lebron is a bad rebounder…

      • urodaddy07 - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:31 PM

        No elite centre averages 7 rebounds. He is goo against the heat because they’re tiny. That is just one team, Oh and I watch almost every game and he is pretty average most nights. And he last time I checked your average is a better reflection than what you do against one team, a team that has beaten them in the EC finals anyway and history looks like its gonna repeat itself, if Pacers get that far. Oh maybe you didn’t catch those games

      • bougin89 - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        I didn’t say Hibbert was an elite center. I said he was an elite rim protector and a good rebounder. The Pacers hurdle(like every other team in the east) is the Heat and Hibbert is good against the Heat. That makes him more valuable to the Pacers, obviously.

        I’m not a Pacers fan and it would be an upset if the Heat don’t get to the finals this year.

        Other than your irrational comments, care to add anything of value?

      • urodaddy07 - Apr 7, 2014 at 7:36 PM

        Oh and Lebron may play listed as power forward but he plays more like a point forward/2 guard. And how did we get to comparing Lebron and Hibbert?

      • bougin89 - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        “Oh and Lebron may play listed as power forward but he plays more like a point forward/2 guard. ”

        Obviously.

        I was making a point about how stats are a measuring stick but you can’t always compare them directly with something else. You missed the point.

  20. kb2408 - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    How is this happening?! This team is in a complete free fall and no one knows why. It is too easy to point to the Granger/Turner deal. I believe it has more to do with the Pacers making George its franchise player. Maybe on a championship caliber team he is better suited as a 2nd option instead of a 1st…like he is now. I must admit, I was wrong. I thought George was headed for superstardom. I guess he still could reach that level. But right now it’s not looking too good.

  21. urodaddy07 - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    6.7 rebounds per game? Really?! A 7’2″ center who is supposed to be anchoring your defence pulls down less than 10 rebounds a game. Charles would call him a small forward.

  22. patrickla818 - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    The Heat cakewalk to the Finals. No one in the East can beat them in 7.

    • kb2408 - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      And then get smoked in 6 games by the Spurs.

      • doctordunkenstein - Apr 7, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        just like last year?

  23. doctordunkenstein - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Roy Hibbert sucks when he is:

    A. playing a team with a legit center

    and

    B. not getting every call from the refs

  24. realfootballfan - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    Verticality.

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