The wheels have come careening off the wagon for the Indiana Pacers in recent weeks, but everything came to a head on Sunday night when they were blasted, at home, by the Atlanta Hawks to the tune of a 107-88 final score. With that as the backdrop, there was an incredibly interesting development during the game, as All-Star center Roy Hibbert was unceremoniously benched for the entire second half, and after that occurred, he vanished from the locker room.
On paper, Hibbert’s benching was incredibly justified, as he missed all 5 field goal attempts and failed to grab a single rebound (or score a point) in 9 minutes, but that type of thing doesn’t usually happen to an arguably elite player in the NBA. Indy has scuffled openly in recent days and Frank Vogel attempted to defend Hibbert by arguing that he almost sat him prior to the game (I’m skeptical), but this one smells funny.
In his last ten games, the 7-foot-2 Hibbert is shooting a laughable 33.3% from the field (9.2 points, 3.9 rebounds per game) and if you argue against that as small sample size theater, the numbers aren’t much better (39.5% FG) if you extend that to a 20-sample sample (9.2 points, 4.2 rebounds). There is certainly an argument that Hibbert’s impact will never be measured by statistics because of his defensive prowess, but he’s been a disaster recently, and when that coincides with the lack of team success, it’s tough to overlook.
The Pacers have a reprieve in the schedule with a trip to Milwaukee (the league’s worst team) on Wednesday, but until Hibbert shows that he can and will play better, things are relatively bleak.