Two second-round playoff series became a lot more interesting on Wednesday as both the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma Thunder avenged their home losses in the series openers with Game Two victories.
Center Roy Hibbert broke out of his painful slump to lead the Pacers to a Game Two victory over the Washington Wizards at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 86-82.
The 27-year-old has been held scoreless in three of eight postseason games, but came out firing to lead Indiana with 28 points on 10-13 shooting. He also converted all eight of his free throws, and grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
"I felt that I put a lot of pressure on myself to get going and I don't want to get into excuses,” Hibbert said. “I think I was making a lot of excuses throughout the second half of the season and the playoffs so I decided to take it into my own hands and change it around."
Hibbert’s strong effort was a bold rebuttal to Game One, when he was held scoreless and had five fouls while turning the ball over twice in 18 minutes.
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"First of all, [Hibbert] made a decision that he's going to step up and sometimes you have a game where the ball bounces your way or the coverage leaves you as the open man,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.
“We didn't call any more plays for Roy tonight than we have all series. That's the remarkable thing. He did it on his own. When you play with a certain level of force, the ball finds you."
The Wizards got solid production from their big men, as well. Center Marcin Gortat led Washington with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while power forward Nene Hilario added 14 points and five rebounds.
The series shifts to Washington on Friday for Game Three.
In the West, Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double to help the Thunder cruise past the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena, 112-101.
The star guard scored 31 points to go along with 10 assists and 10 rebounds. The Thunder shot 50.6 percent and led by as many as 20 points after getting blown out by the Clippers in Game One.
Kevin Durant, who recently was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2013-2014 regular season, poured in 32 points, and almost joined Westbrook with a triple-double by adding 12 rebounds and nine assists.
The Clippers had six players score in double figures, but failed to maintain their hot shooting from Game One, when they converted nearly 55 percent of their shots. Los Angeles appeared to feel the pressure of tougher Oklahoma City defense.
"They did what [head coach] Scotty [Brooks] said they were gonna -- they made us feel them,” said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.
“They were much more physical. We weren't there physically and maybe not mentally either. We just didn't have it tonight, or maybe [the Thunder] just took it."
The Clippers host the Thunder for Game Three on Friday.