Hibbert helps Indiana take 2-1 series lead vs. Knicks

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers didn't have a hangover from being blown out by the New York Knicks in Game 2.
The Pacers used the three days between games to regroup, refocus and regain the lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.
Pacers center Roy Hibbert scored a career playoff-high 24 points and had 12 rebounds to lead Indiana to an 82-71 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
The Pacers lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is Tuesday night back at the Fieldhouse.
"I think this is his best playoff game ever," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Hibbert. "He's just oozing with confidence. Everybody wanted to sort of kick him while he was down earlier in the season when he wasn't playing well. He's playing extremely well on both ends of the court and that's what we need.
"We know he's going to dominate on the defensive end. And, when he has the offensive production like he had tonight, we're pretty good."
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 21 points on only 6-of-16 shooting from the field. The Pacers held New York to 35 percent from the floor.
"Offensively, we just didn't have anything," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We just didn't have any offensive pop. We have to figure that out."
The Pacers needed Hibbert's offensive performance because David West, Paul George and George Hill, the team's top three scoring threats, all struggled shooting the ball. West was 4 of 11, Hill was 5 of 16 and George was 4 of 17.
Hibbert attempted 18 shots after taking just seven in Game 2. Eight of his 12 rebounds were on the offensive end.
"The way these guys play, it's tough to get the ball in the post," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "You can fall into the trap of trying to over feed it, leading to high-turnover nights. You have to take advantage of your opportunities. We were able to get it to him at times, still not enough for my liking."
The Pacers put an emphasis on wanting to stop turning the ball over so much.
It didn't look like they spent much time working on the Knicks' defensive pressure in the first half because the Pacers turned the ball over 10 times in the first 24 minutes. Luckily for Indiana, the Knicks scored just 11 points off those turnovers.
A poor-shooting half by both teams allowed the Knicks to go into the locker room trailing only 36-33.
The Pacers got some breathing room in the third quarter. Hibbert's two free throws gave Indiana a 58-44 lead with 3:11 left.
Indiana eventually got its lead up to 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Anthony was the only Knick to score in double figures. Point guard Raymond Felton, who played well in the first two games of the series, was held to six points on 1-of-8 shooting. Knicks guard J.R. Smith, who was a game-time decision because of illness, was only 4-of-12 in 25 minutes off the bench.
"It's one of those games we just couldn't score the basketball," Anthony said. "Defensively we felt like we did a great job. But we just couldn't score the ball. We held them to 82 points, 35 percent from the field, 30 percent from the 3. We can't beat anybody scoring 71 points."
NOTES: Longtime Knicks fan Spike Lee reportedly offered $40,000 for four tickets next to the Pacers' bench for Game 2, but seat owner Stewart Reed turned down Lee. Reed brought up Lee's proposal while visiting Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where his business is primary sponsor on Ed Carpenter's No. 20 car entered in the 97th Indy 500. ... Ian Mahinmi was back in the lineup as Hibbert's backup at center. Vogel decided to go back to Mahinmi because he wants to have a rim protector on the court. Vogel used Jeff Pendergraph in the second half of Game 2. "Pendergraph is an exceptional playmaker in scramble situations New York likes to put you in with its defense and he's a decent rim protector," Vogel said. "Ian is an elite rim protector." ... Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire made his playoff debut after being out for two months following knee surgery. Woodson said Stoudemire will be limited to 10 to 15 minutes per game for the time being.