After another slumbering start, one that extended deep into the third quarter, Roy Hibbert's game powered on. The All-Star center admitted he had help flipping the switch, by someone that in another situation might have the Pacers' big man flipping something else.
Following Indiana's 95-92 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday night in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, Hibbert explained that a relentless heckler provided a boost. After scoring two points in the first half, Hibbert tallied 15 after halftime.
"He woke me up," Hibbert said in the Pacers locker room. "He said I was tired. He was saying a lot of obscenities. I’m a God fearing man so I’m not going into saying what he was saying…He got me going and I let him hear [me]."
Paul George led all scorers with 39 points, but like every other game in the series, the former Georgetown star served as the pivotal player. The victory, Indiana's third straight, gave the Pacers a 3-1 series lead.
With Hibbert a relative non-factor in the first half, the Wizards led 55-38 at halftime and by 19 points seconds into the third quarter.
With 3:35 remaining in the third, Hibbert still had just the two points and Indiana still trailed by a hefty amount at 70-56. Whether there was a trigger word uttered at that moment or simply Hibbert found his way against Washington's defense, he scored nine of the Pacers’ next 11 points. Indiana ended the period with a 15-2 run and tied the game at 74-74 quickly in the fourth.
Once again, the Wizards pushed back. Led by reserves Drew Gooden, Al Harrington and Andre Miller, Washington regained momentum for an 85-76 lead with 7:09 remaining. George started the final charge with consecutive 3's and Hibbert backed him up. Of Indiana's final 19 points, that duo scored 18. Of Indiana's 57 second-half points, Hibbert and George scored 43.
The 7-foot-2 center had two rebounds in the first half, but seven in the second. The Pacers outrebounded the Wizards in the second half and in the game for the first time in this series. Meanwhile Washington's center Marcin Gortat struggled throughout against Hibbert, finishing with two points and three rebounds in only 21 minutes.
"Roy just stepped up," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
Hibbert did indeed, perhaps in part because a fan didn't shut up.
-- Ben Standig, CSN Washington