INDIANAPOLIS — Roy Hibbert broke out of his playoff funk with a season-best 28 points and nine rebounds, leading the Pacers to an 86-82 victory over the Wizards on Wednesday night that tied the Eastern Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
It was a stark contrast to Hibbert's abysmal showing in Indiana's Game 1 loss Monday, and in most of this season's playoffs. After hearing 48 hours of constant criticism and questions, Hibbert responded with the kind of game Indiana desperately needed. He made his first four shots, dominated the middle and produced big basket after big basket.
"(Teammate) David (West) always talks to me about being the person that rescues yourself when you're in the middle of the ocean," Hibbert said. "There's nobody who can throw a lifesaver or a rope out to help you. So I had to do it myself."
Hibbert went into Wednesday with a combined total of 37 points and 24 rebounds in Indiana's first eight playoff games. Twice in the previous four he had failed to score or grab a rebound.
Beleaguered Pacers fans wanted Hibbert benched. Frustrated teammates talked publicly and privately about needing more from their 7-foot-2 center. Critics turned Hibbert into the butt of jokes.
After talking to his college coach, Georgetown's John Thompson III, and Colts linebacker Robert Mathis, a close friend, Hibbert focused on basketball and fueled the decisive 6-0 run late in the fourth quarter.
It was enough to make Hibbert smile, though he considers it only a start: "I just want to string a few games together. Consistency hasn't been my biggest friend this year."
Marcin Gortat had 21 points for the Wizards.
Pacers 86, Wizards 82
WASHINGTON (82): Ariza 2-8 0-0 6, Nene 7-14 0-4 14, Gortat 10-15 1-2 21, Wall 2-13 2-2 6, Beal 7-15 1-2 17, Gooden 2-4 1-2 5, Webster 2-4 0-0 5, Booker 1-1 0-0 2, Miller 3-6 0-0 6, Temple 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 36-80 5-12 82.
INDIANA (86): George 5-13 1-2 11, West 3-8 3-4 9, Hibbert 10-13 8-8 28, G.Hill 6-12 1-2 14, Stephenson 3-12 4-4 12, Mahinmi 3-4 0-0 6, Turner 0-0 0-0 0, Watson 2-5 0-0 5, Scola 0-4 1-1 1, Copeland 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-72 18-21 86.
Washington 23 22 19 18— 82
Indiana 23 20 25 18— 86
3-Point Goals—Washington 5-21 (Beal 2-6, Ariza 2-7, Webster 1-3, Miller 0-1, Wall 0-4), Indiana 4-12 (Stephenson 2-4, Watson 1-2, G.Hill 1-2, Copeland 0-1, George 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Washington 50 (Gortat 11), Indiana 44 (Hibbert 9). Assists—Washington 20 (Wall 8), Indiana 17 (Stephenson 5). Total Fouls—Washington 21, Indiana 15.
Bynum done: Oft-injured Pacers center Andrew Bynum will miss the rest of the playoffs, team officials said before Game 2. Bynum had a sore right knee before he signed with the team Feb. 1 from the Cavaliers. The Pacers hoped he could add depth. Bynum looked good in his Pacers debut but played only one more game, finishing with averages of 11.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in 26 games overall.
Late Tuesday: After feasting on the Rockets' porous perimeter defense in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Trail Blazers appeared to be caught offguard when they stepped up in class to face the host Spurs in the semifinals.
The playoff-tested Spurs jumped on the young Blazers in Game 1, leading by 13 after the first quarter and 26 at halftime. By the time the Blazers got their bearings, it was too late and the Spurs won 116-92. San Antonio limited Portland to 37.8 percent shooting and four 3-pointers.
Sterling's wife: i want clippers: Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling said she believes she is legally entitled to maintain ownership of the team and will attempt to do so, even as the league pushes to remove her husband from the team he has owned for 33 years. Sterling told the Los Angeles Times she believes the sanctions against Donald Sterling — which include a lifetime ban for making racists comments — do not apply to "me or my family" and she has retained a law firm to guide her. The NBA had no response to Sterling's comments, which came on the day the owners' advisory/finance committee held its second conference call to review the timing of and process for forcing Donald Sterling to sell. The committee also discussed the search for a team CEO.
Around the league: Spurs general manager R.C. Buford was named the league's executive of the year for the first time.