This ought to quiet everybody down for a couple of days.
Roy Hibbert, who, until Wednesday night, was having the worst postseason of any All-Star 7-footer in NBA history, erupted for 28 points, nine rebounds and two blocks to lead the Indiana Pacers to an 86-82 victory over the Washington Wizards in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.
Hibbert was the only Pacer who played consistently effective offense, but he was enough because John Wall, the Wizards' All Star, had the worst game of his brief postseason career, shooting 2-for-13, missing all four of his puzzling three-point attempts and coughing up the ball on a big George Hill steal with less than a minute to go that, followed by this Lance Stephenson shot, iced the game.
Hibbert came out firing from the get-go, scoring the Pacers' first five points on a jumper and an and-one layup. He didn't let up either, going 5-for-7 from the field in the first half and 7-7 from the line for 17 points. His and George Hill's poor play were the most glaring weaknesses in the Pacers' first eight games of these playoffs, and Hill also went off in the first half, with a nice dunk, aggressive play on both ends and scored six points, tied with Paul George for the second-most on the team in the half.
Despite the improvement from Hill and Hibbert, the Pacers gained absolutely no early separation on the Wizards. Nene went out for a little but came back and tied with Marcin Gortat to lead the 'Zards with eight points apiece, and Washington led the Pacers 45-43 at halftime.
The third quarter went just like the first two, except the Pacers locked down even more on defense. Wall couldn't get anything going and Roy Hibbert just kept taking and making shots. Lance Stephenson finally got going with a pair of three-pointers and the Pacers seized the lead, up 68-64 at the end of the period.
More importantly than Roy Hibbert's offensive resurgence was the return of the Pacers' team defense. There were still moments where they were a team that looked like they just met each other, but the Wizards could barely get any offense going at the rim. They were reduced to jump shots, which was great for Beal and Nene, but not so much for Wall, who has yet to regain his jumper in these playoffs.
Wall finished with six points and eight assists while the Wizards were led by another outstanding game from Bradley Beal, who had 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Marcin Gortat was huge all game long with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
George scored only 11 points with six boards and assists, and his performance was concerning, especially considering he couldn't take advantage when Martell Webster was on him as opposed to the superior defender Trevor Ariza.
The series is now tied up for the two games at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Don't expect Wall to replicate his performance -- or Hibbert, for that reason -- in Game 3 on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. The Pacers didn't do much Tuesday night to prove they're the superior team, but they got the win, and as they proved in the first round, that's all they need for now.