Hansbrough, Hibbert spark Pacers past Nets
The 7-foot-2 center made his first career 3-pointer and scored a career-high 20 points on his birthday, leading the Pacers to a 107-91 win over New Jersey on Friday night.
The 23-year-old Hibbert also had nine rebounds and three blocks to help the Pacers snap a six-game losing streak.
“We needed this win,” he said. “I wanted a good birthday present, too.”
Tyler Hansbrough(notes) scored a career-high 21 points and Troy Murphy(notes) added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who played their second game without Granger and won for the first time since he was hurt. The team’s scoring leader will miss at least four weeks with torn tissue on his right heel.
Murphy said Hibbert and Hansbrough handled their added shooting responsibilities well.
“They’re going to be great players here for a long time,” he said. “It’s exciting for the fans to see them here. They’re going to be the future.”
New Jersey shot just 36 percent from the field and made 3 of 13 3-pointers. The Nets dropped to 2-3 under coach Kiki Vandeweghe.
“This was a tough one,” he said. “We have to take a look at it and realize how they got ahead of us. Tonight was a struggle for us shooting-wise.”
The Pacers had lost 10 of 11 and six in a row, but changed their fortunes by executing.
“We just showed up and played,” Hansbrough said. “We went out there and played our style. There’s nothing that we changed up. We just played our basketball.”
Hibbert scored 15 points in the first half, and Indiana shot 52 percent to lead 60-51.
Harris left the game midway through the third quarter holding his finger while groaning in pain. New Jersey rallied without him and closed to within 76-71 before Hansbrough hit back-to-back mid-range jumpers to start an 8-0 run that pushed the lead to 13. Indiana led 87-74 at the end of the third quarter.
Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said Hansbrough provided a welcome spark.
“He was playing as well as anybody on the team,” O’Brien said. “His intensity on the court was something we needed.”
Harris returned early in the fourth quarter, but it didn’t matter. The Pacers opened the quarter with a 6-1 spurt to take a 93-75 lead.
The Pacers were scrambling at the end of the shot clock when Murphy saved the ball to Hibbert, and the big guy made the first 3-pointer of his career as the buzzer sounded. The shot gave Indiana a 96-75 lead and Hibbert his career high.
Hibbert said he shoots 3-pointers regularly in practice, though he has only attempted two in his NBA career.
“I can see that more in my future, but not right now,” he said.
New Jersey didn’t make a field goal in the fourth quarter until 5:51 remained.
“We played together tonight, and we must continue to play together,” Hibbert said. “We can’t dwell on Danny being out. We just have to put five out there at a time, and everybody work hard and hold the franchise down until Danny gets back.”
NOTES: Indianapolis native Courtney Lee(notes) started and scored 14 points for the Nets. … Indiana shot better than 60 percent for much of the first quarter before a flurry of misses at the end dropped the total to 57 percent. … Indiana had scored fewer than 100 points in three straight games.