Roy Hibbert’s primary job is to protect the rim. And boy did he ever do it with valor tonight against the Miami Heat, sacrificing some blood in the name of not letting LeBron James score at the cup.
James drove hard and furious at Hibbert’s keep, but Roy elevated with hands high and body straight — a defensive strategy of verticality that he has mastered over the past 24 months. I’m too dumb to understand Newton’s laws of motion, but there’s something in there about equal but opposing forces coming together with always result in the elbow of a four-time MVP will chin check a 7’2″ giant.
LeBron was whistled for an offensive foul, while Hibbert was down and — it appeared nearly — out. (GIF via SB Nation)
The aftermath wasn’t pretty, as Hibbert tried and failed to stand up. (GIF via Sporting News)
Here is the whole thing in video. (video via SI’s The Point Forward)
After a long review, the refs declared this a flagrant foul on LeBron. But before that happened, Roy was brought first to the bench and then to the locker room. He looked dizzy and I didn’t think we would be seeing him in the game again.
But David West had other thoughts, racing down the tunnel to bring Hibbert back so he could shoot his free throws. (I’m not 100%, but I believe that if Roy was unable to shoot the free throws and some other Pacer took them in his place, Hibbert would have been unable to return to the game.)
He made 1-of-2 shots, which was impressive considering the viciousness of the shot he took to the jaw, as several folks noted on Twitter.
Roy would exit after the shots, but return later after passing some concussion tests. Ian Mahinmi played in his steed, and did a fairly good job until Hibbert could return.
It was a monster game for Indiana’s biggest All-Star, who scored 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting in the first quarter and finished the game with 21 points.
That set the tone of the game early and it was this gutsy play that reclaimed the momentum for the Pacers with just 9 minutes left.
UPDATE: This tweet from Scott Agness of Pacers.com adds to the scariness of hits to the head.
UPDATE 2: Better news from Agness.