The Indiana Pacers hit rock bottom on Sunday, losing 107-88 at home to the Atlanta Hawks.
Roy Hibbert — who is averaging just 9.6 points and 4.7 rebounds on 41.6% shooting since the All-Star Break — was benched at halftime.
He was reportedly “disengaged” on the bench in the second half. During one timeout he stood at the edge of the huddle and watched a “King Of The Hill” sketch on the jumbotron while coach Frank Vogel drew up plays, according to the Indianapolis Star.
This comes a week after Hibbert said his team was full of “some selfish dudes.”
Indiana is in free fall.
They have gone 13-13 since the All-Star Break. Their league-best defence has slipped. They’re giving up 8.3 more points per 100 possessions in their last 26 games than they did in their first 52 games. During that same period they have been one of the worst offensive teams in the league, scoring just 99.1 points per 100 possessions — only the Sixers have been that bad on offence this season.
Hibbert is struggling mightily.
Paul George, who looked like he was going to become the third-best player in the NBA in the first month of the season, has regressed. He shot 37.2% from the field and 29.2% from 3-point range in March. He’s also going through some sort of odd off-court catfishing situation.
Indiana has lost its grip on the No. 1 seed in the east, despite Miami essentially coasting since early March.
After the game, Vogel explained the decision to bench Hibbert:
“I considered resting Roy before tonight’s game because he looks worn down; he’s a 7-2 player that’s played every game this year, which is very rare. He looks to me to be worn down. He’s giving good effort, but he looks to me to be worn down.”
The playoffs start in two weeks.
Indiana certainly has the time and playoff experience to turn it around. Even in the midst of their slump, they beat both Miami and Chicago. But their sheer ineptitude in the last one-third of the season makes them vulnerable to anyone they play in the first round.
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