Hibbert: Center of attention
Pacers are content to run their offense through improving 7-2 big man
Written by Mike Wells
Passing out of the post was one of the things the Indiana Pacers were worried about with Roy Hibbert in the preseason.
Hibbert, the up-and-coming third-year center, had a tendency to hold the ball without looking for cutters as he made his move to the basket.
He's now showing signs of better reading the defense.
The 7-2 Hibbert led the team in assists the past two games. He had 11 assists and only three turnovers in the two Pacers victories.
"When I'm in the post, (assistant coach) Vitaly (Potapenko) tells me to take my time, see how the defense is playing and find the open man," Hibbert said. "So I'm going to let the defense come to me and then I'll find the open guy or make a move to the basket."
Coach Jim O'Brien wants his offense to go through Hibbert in the post, but he also plans to run the passing game, which involves a lot of moving and cutting to the basket.
It's critical that Hibbert gets the ball to teammates cutting to the basket or on the perimeter.
He threw two nice passes to Mike Dunleavy on cuts to the basket and made Philadelphia guard Jrue Holiday pay for leaving Darren Collison when he found the point guard for an easy layup in Saturday's victory.
"I've repeatedly said we're going to play through Roy and that's because he's a unique big man," O'Brien said. "He's effective in the low post. He can spot up and shoot and he's also a terrific passer and willing passer. Our guys know that.
"When you have a big guy who is going to have his hands on the ball a lot, you know if your guy turns his head, cut to the basket and he'll get you the basketball. That's a great weapon."
O'Brien hasn't needed to limit Hibbert's minutes because of conditioning or foul trouble.
Hibbert has played at least 33 minutes in each of the first three games.
"I think Roy is playing well," O'Brien said. "What doesn't show up in the stat sheet is the number of shots he's adjusting. I think he's doing a solid job defensively. I would like to see him become a dominating rebounder. Hopefully that will come in the future."
Led by Hibbert's 13 rebounds, the Pacers had four players with at least seven against Philadelphia.
Dunleavy and Josh McRoberts had nine rebounds each and Tyler Hansbrough had seven.
The Pacers said it will take gang rebounding if they expect to succeed in that area.
The Pacers have four players -- Hibbert, Dunleavy, Hansbrough and McRoberts -- averaging at least five rebounds a game. Danny Granger's 4.3 average is expected to increase as the season goes on.
"I was able to get a few more rebounds because Troy Murphy wasn't here," Dunleavy joked.
The Pacers scored at least 40 points in the paint for the first time this season when they had 46 on Saturday. . . . The Pacers and 76ers meet again Wednesday in Philadelphia. The Pacers are 12-5 in their past 17 games against the 76ers.