Paul George may be the Indiana Pacers’ MVP candidate , but time and time again it has been proven that Pacer center Roy Hibbert is the team’s literal most valuable player. This was more than evident last week, when Hibbert was the dominant go-to force on both ends in Indiana’s comeback win over the Miami Heat, and it was certainly evident in Miami tonight. Hibbert was hampered by foul trouble all night, leading to diminished returns from Indiana as the defending champs came back from 15 points to win by a 97-94 score.
Pacer coach Frank Vogel, after years of watching Hibbert grow from a foul-prone youngster into a Defensive Player of the Year-level star, made the curious decision to leave the big man on the court even after he picked up his fourth foul just minutes into the second half. Hibbert, who has lowered his fouls per 36 minutes from 7.7 in his rookie season to just 3.6 this year, then picked up his fifth foul with the Pacers up nine points with eight and a half minutes to go in the third, and had to sit for the majority of the second half.
The Pacers eventually built the lead back up to 15, but Miami’s move to a bigger lineup eventually wore on Indiana. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra ran reserve center Chris Andersen alongside Chris Bosh, while LeBron James’ penetration and Miami’s constant movement allowed the Heat to come back and eventually secure the win.
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A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C : Squeeze the Orange . Kevin Love's outlet passing has received its fair share of praise lately, but as Adrien Kaeslin sees it — and demonstrates — it's a notable advancement as a passer out of both the high and low post that has made the Minnesota Timberwolves power forward one of the game's most versatile and dangerous offensive players through the first quarter of the season.
PF : National Post and Nothing But Net . Eric Koreen on how the Toronto Raptors' import of slow-but-savvy point guard Greivis Vasquez (and the potential export of Kyle Lowry) could result in a harmonious pick-and-roll marriage with strong screen-setter Amir Johnson, whom Doug Smith identifies as "the guys [Raptors fans will] truly remember and appreciate; guys whose effort and personalities made them stand out."
SF : Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine ($) . Lee Jenkins, Brian Windhorst, Tom Haberstroh, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs revisit the final 29 seconds of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. It is worth your time to do the same.
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Despite pretty strong play over the past month since returning from an early-November illness — around 16 points, three rebounds and three assists per game on 45.5 percent shooting, a 39.5 percent mark from 3-point range and 4.4 free-throw attempts in 28.5 minutes of nightly burn — sophomore Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters continues to hear his name floated in trade talks. The most recent round of chatter, shared by Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling , connected the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft with the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, with Zwerling's anonymous sources suggesting the latter would be the Syracuse product's preferred choice because A) he's from Philly and B) "he thinks he'd be the best player on the team."
Irrespective of whether Waiters would or would not be the best player on a 7-19 76ers team, or how much veracity there is to the report that he wants out of Ohio (remember, trade rumor season's a difficult-to-navigate beast ), the report made its way from the bleachers to the readers and to the Cavaliers' locker room, where Waiters made a point to address it before Tuesday's tough last-second loss to the Portland Trail Blazers (in which, by the way, Waiters played pretty great, scoring 25 points on 19 shots and adding five assists against just one turnover).
From The Associated Press :
Speaking before Cleveland's game against Portland, Waiters said he's happy and comfortable and was surprised by an Internet report that he had requested a trade.
"Why would I do that?" Waiters said. "It doesn't make sense. This is the team that drafted me. People come up with their own things, man. I know what I said and what I didn't say. That's one of the things I absolutely never said."
We'll take Waiters at his word for the moment — after all, he's been playing well in Cleveland since last month's unpleasantness , and the Cavs have, too, winning five of six before dropping a pair against the Blazers and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. But his turn of phrase — "one of the things I absolutely never said" — left us feeling curious. What might some of the other ones be? Here's 10 pretty likely guesses; feel free to share yours in the comments below.
1. "You know what? I probably shouldn't take this shot. Here, [INSERT ANY TEAMMATE EVER'S NAME]. You go for it."
2. "I appreciate the offer, ma'am, but I couldn't possibly impose upon your taco dinner ."
3. "Yeah, I did hit catch Kyrie with the left hook . And what ?"
4. "Oh, cool! Popcorn !"
5. "Most of the time, I just don't feel very confident in my abilities, I guess."
6. " Great Photoshop , man. I really dig self-referential homonyms."
7. "I have never joined forces with a Maybach Music Group signee to help people figure out how to achieve their dreams."
8. "'Olympus is Fallen' is not one of my favorite movies ."
9. "If I had to say which of my teammates was the best rollerskater, I'd probably say Kyrie rather than myself , and then definitely wouldn't get into any type of locker-room altercation about it."
10. "'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' is not one of the greatest television programs of all time ."
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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!
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