INDIANAPOLIS – There isn’t another team in the NBA that has made more statements throughout their first nine games than the Indiana Pacers. Whether it be collectively, like wiping the floor with the Chicago Bulls last Wednesday, or individually, they seem set on proving wrong any doubters that might still remain.
On Friday it was Roy Hibbert’s turn.
The mammoth center isn’t bashful when it comes to speaking about individual goals and awards he wants to achieve. Hibbert tweeted a simple message to the masses after that Bulls win: “DPoY. Goodnight!” He then followed it up with another explaining he isn’t afraid to let everyone know it either. That he isn’t sorry for when he says he wants the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Hibbert displayed exactly why he’ll be in the hunt for come the end of the season in the Pacers’ 104-77 demolishing of the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. The 7-2 anchor to Indiana’s suffocating defense swatted eight Milwaukee shots and pulled in 10 rebounds.
“[Hibbert’s] proving night in and night out that he’s the best rim protector in the game,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said after the win. “He’s the front runner for the best defensive player in the game.”
Hibbert’s defense didn’t tell the whole story, however, as he also led the Pacers in scoring with 24. He missed just two shots from the field and was perfect from the charity stripe (8-8). The Pacers went to him early on the block – like they often do – but this time No. 55 delivered more often than not.
“I wish I would’ve played him two or three more minutes and maybe he would’ve got a triple-double,” Vogel mentioned afterwards.
But another date with Chicago looms on Saturday and this round will take place at the United Center, the home of the Bulls. A place that the Pacers know can be difficult to secure a win at, no matter who is suited up in the red and black.
George’s Sizzling Mid-range Game
Paul George poured in 22 more points in the win over Milwaukee, with 12 of those coming the fourth quarter. George unleashed an onslaught of mid-range jumpers in the second half that seemed to hardly ever catch anything but the net as they went in.
George’ mid-range shooting through nine games has been almost unbelievable. He connected on 8 of 9 shots from that area against the Bucks, pushing his field goal percentage to almost 57 percent (29-51) – league average is currently 40.1 percent.
These are the shots that numerous NBA defenses are willing to give up, at least when they are contested by one of their players. Yet George, whether it be a clean look or not, continues to sizzle from mid-range. While it would be wise to expect that number to drop at least a tad, this new advancement in the 23 year-old’s game has taken him to new heights already.
Emptying the Notebook
— The reserves continued their stellar play as well, pitching in 31 points against Milwaukee. Luis Scola scored eight points and grabbed seven boards, leading to even more post-game praise from his coach. “Scola is one of the best power forwards in the game,” Vogel said. These types of praises of the Argentinian are occuring after pretty much every game this season.
— Vogel also mentioned earlier in the season that Chris Copeland would be featured in games when the Pacers needed to “stretch teams out,” yet the coach changed his tune on Friday. When asked if Copeland will only see time in blowouts like the one against the Bucks, Vogel replied with “probably,” but mentioned the combo forward has seen some time at the 3 in practice this past week.
Brandon Curry is the Pacers Beat Writer for the Indy Sports Report. Follow Brandon and ISR on Twitter.
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