With rumors swirling, and angry teammates demanding a breakout performance, Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert had to deliver in a must-win Game 2. And Hibbert certainly did as the Pacers tied their series with the Washington Wizards, and the big fella says a fishing trip with Paul George helped clear his mind. Per the team website:
Two nights after failing to contribute a point or rebound to his team’s cause and amid a swirl of social media criticism, Hibbert scored 28 points, grabbed nine rebounds and didn’t commit a single turnover during his 33 ½ minutes in the Pacers’ 86-82 victory over Washington on Wednesday. Rather than reeling from a nearly hopeless 0-2 deficit after two homecourt losses, they are now in what’s essentially a best-of-five series.
Hibbert didn’t celebrate his redemption. Nor did he fire back at his growing army of critics. Actually, for a guy who’s had his share of controversial postgame quotes, he was as bland as could be.
“I just haven’t been aggressive as I should’ve been in the past and you have to look within yourself to make things happen,” he said to explain the outburst that had occurred on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court.
“I felt that I put a lot of pressure on myself to get going and I don’t want to get into to excuses. I think I was making a lot of excuses throughout the second half of the season and during the playoffs. I’m excited to take it into my own hands and change it around.”
The juiciest angle he could offer was a fishing trip, courtesy of Paul George, at Geist Reservoir on Tuesday.
“Yesterday after practice, he invited me out on his boat and we fished for about two hours, and just relaxed and didn’t talk about basketball,” Hibbert said. “We just talked about life and trying to catch some bass. He reached out and got my mind off things. Hopefully it’s something I can build on, and he’s a great teammate, so I really do appreciate him reaching out because he didn’t have to.”
A fishing trip? What about the release of Andrew Bynum earlier in the day? Hibbert, according to Hollywood script writers posing as social media analysts, had been bothered by the signing of the backup center on Feb. 1, and therefore was revitalized by Bynum’s release earlier in the day. That, of course, ignores the fact Hibbert scored 20 points against Brooklyn the same day Bynum was signed, had other good games after his arrival, or that Bynum was hardly around often enough to be a significant presence as he tried to rehabilitate his knees.
“Nothing to it,” George said when asked if Bynum’s release had helped Hibbert’s restoration. “Bynum’s a good dude. Many times he chimed in and was a voice for this locker room. He was a great person here.”
Asked if Bynum’s release had helped Hibbert’s frame of mind, (Ian) Manhimi burst out laughing.
“No, no, no,” he said. “That has strictly nothing to do with it. He had his good games when Bynum was here and he had his so-so games. I don’t think it has anything to do with his recent struggles.
“The few times (Bynum and him) talked, he was a very nice guy off the court. I have nothing bad to say about him. It was just unfortunate that his knee was bad.”