Roy Hibbert benched for second half; Frank Vogel says he was worn down

Roy Hibbert benchThe 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.

Frank Vogel to Pacers: Stop complaining about in-house stuff

Frank-Vogel-Heat-floppersThe Indiana Pacers have not been shy about expressing their displeasure during their current 7-10 stretch of play. They are slowly losing their grip on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, mainly because they can’t find ways to score. Regardless of what their issues may be, Indiana head coach Frank Vogel wants his team to stop complaining.

Or, at the very least, Vogel doesn’t want to hear the Pacers whining with microphones in their faces.

“It bothers me,” Vogel said Wednesday, via Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star. “Guys should never air in-house stuff to the media. I talked to the team about it today (Wednesday).”

More specifically, Vogel seemed bothered by Roy Hibbert’s comments last week when he called his teammates selfish.

“It was a weird thing. Roy said it a couple of days ago (after the Washington loss) and nobody really caught onto it until (recently),” Vogel added. “So I made sure to tell them that A) I don’t believe we have ‘selfish dudes’ in our locker room and B) whatever you might want to say about your teammates, don’t say it to the media. We have to get that stopped.”

Pacers forward David West also said recently that the team does not play a “good brand of basketball.” Considering Indiana was — and still is — one of the best teams in the East, that seems like a bit of an overreaction.

“Every team has stretches like this, some in December, some in January,” Vogel said. “It just happens that it’s happening to us in March. I still think our guys really believe in what we have here. I think it’s going to stabilize and turn around for us.”

Better to happen in March than in late April, I suppose. But if the Pacers don’t lose the “sky is falling” mentality before the postseason begins, their bad stretch of play may continue.

Roy Hibbert inexplicably on bench for Miami Heat’s last two possesions

Roy Hibbert defense

The Indiana Pacers played a great game against the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Heck, after Paul George made three free throws to give them the lead with 2.2 seconds left, it looked like they were even going to pull off the win. But luckily Miami had Pacers coach Frank Vogel give them an assist.

Vogel inexplicably pulled center Roy Hibbert out of the game for the Heat’s final two possessions in overtime. With 24.6 seconds left in OT, the game was tied at 99 and Vogel subbed out Hibbert for Sam Young. He initially had Hibbert in the game defending Chris Bosh but decided to make the substitution before Miami inbounded the ball for its possession. Hibbert walked to the bench with his head down, clearly upset with the decision.

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LeBron James to Frank Vogel: We’re not just another team

LeBron JamesLeBron James did not appreciate Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel referring to the Miami Heat as “just the next team” standing in their way from reaching the NBA Finals. In fact, he was so insulted by the remark that he responded on Sunday with a clearly irritated tone.

“We’re not just another team,” James told reporters, via ESPN’s Michael Wallace. “I don’t understand what he’s saying. But we’re not just another team. That’s not true. He said we’re just another team in their way. We’re a great team. If we’re just another team, you really don’t prepare for just another team. You have to prepare for us.”

Vogel made his remark after the Pacers beat the New York Knicks 106-99 in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Saturday.

“It’s exciting, but this is not about getting back at Miami,” Vogel said when asked about facing the Heat. “You’re in the final four, you’re competing for a championship. You’re competing for a championship. And they’re just the next team that’s in our way. And that’s how we’re approaching it.”

Indiana gave Miami a tough test last year when the team’s met in the Eastern Conference semifinals. They were up 2-1 in the series before Miami came back to win in six. The way last year’s series went probably had the Heat on alert. But Vogel’s comments are already leaving an impression; James referred to them as “bulletin-board material.” Also recall that Vogel tried pulling the same trick before the teams met last year when he called the Heat the biggest floppers in the NBA.

“We’re very confident,” James said. “We’ll be ready for them. We don’t need bulletin-board material. We’ve heard everything, we’ve seen everything. But I would say we’re not just another team, though.”

The way Vogel described how they view the Heat is good for his team. If you want your team to feel like they can compete with the Heat, you have to view Miami as just another team. The problem is Vogel should have kept those words between himself and his team rather than say them publicly. Now, James is going to have extra motivation entering the series. That’s bad, bad news for Indy.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel calls the Heat the biggest floppers in the NBA

The Pacers surprised some people with how easily they were able to handle the Magic in the first round, but a far more challenging task awaits them in the second. In the Miami Heat, Indiana is facing the team that many assume will be hoisting the NBA Finals trophy next month. If they are going to stand a chance, the Pacers may need a little help from the officials throughout the series. That’s why Indiana coach Frank Vogel is already trying to work them over before Game 1.

“(The Heat) are the biggest flopping team in the NBA,” Vogel said according to the Sun Sentinel. “It will be very interesting to see how the referees officiate this series and how much flopping they reward. Every time you drive to the basket, they’ve got guys not making a play on the ball, but sliding in front of drivers, often times they’re falling down before contact is even made. It’ll be very interesting to see how this series is officiated.”

Vogel knows his team isn’t as good as the Heat and can’t match their athleticism, so this is an obvious attempt to prime the officials in hopes that they keep a close eye on things and watch for acting. He’s not totally wrong, however. As we saw from King James’ performance early in the series against the Knicks, the Heat are not opposed to taking a dive or two if it means getting a call.

It may be just me, but it feels like we’ve had more complaining about flopping during this year’s playoffs than in years past — and we’re only one round deep. Either embellishing has become more popular across the league, or coaches have just felt the need to whine a lot more.

Photo credit: Jim O’Connor-US PRESSWIRE