The struggling Indiana Pacers were blasted at home by the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night for their eighth loss in their last 11 games. As possibly an even worse sign, Roy Hibbert was benched for the entire second half to supposedly rest.
Hibbert went 0-for-5 in 9 minutes and did not see the court again after committing a turnover in the second quarter. He was replaced by Ian Mahinmi, who played 17 minutes. Even Lavoy Allen saw 10 minutes.
Though Hibbert’s benching may come off as a bad thing, coach Frank Vogel was protective of his big man after the game. Vogel said Hibbert looked worn out prior to the game and that he was even considering giving him a night off anyhow.
“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,” Vogel said after the game via the Indianapolis Star. “He looks to me to be worn down. He’s giving good effort, but he looks to me to be worn down.”
Hibbert has played every single game for the Pacers and averaged 30 minutes per game, so maybe it was about time for Vogel to give his 7-footer the Popovich treatment. But you don’t want to do it by pulling a guy and embarrassing him; you want to do it before a game.
Maybe the Pacers will snap out of it before the playoffs begin, but they are heading in the wrong direction. Maybe their additions of Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum weren’t the best things for the team. Or maybe they just were playing their best ball at the wrong time.
Between this and some of the stuff going on in the locker room, things haven’t been great in Pacer land.