Hibbert sighting in downtown Indy

The ball went in, and Hibbert got fouled. He had eight free throws Wednesday, the same amount he'd had for the entire postseason up until Game 2.

"My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in my sweet spot and believing in me," Hibbert said. "I wanted to return the favor."

It has been open season on Hibbert recently. He's been lambasted by the media for his scoreless games. He's been mocked on social media by retired peers like Gilbert Arenas and Tracy McGrady -- two players that own a less stellar playoff record than Hibbert already does. Mystified by his sudden drop-off, the public filled the void as rumors with varying levels of absurdity popped up.

"Everybody has been piling on the big fella," West said. "Everyone in this locker room has been trying to encourage him and keep him lifted and keep his spirits high. As a pro athlete, sometimes you're going to struggle, regardless of what is going on. He didn't say too much to us over the last two days. I thought he responded the right way."

One of the things West has been saying to Hibbert is the well-known NBA parable about being rescued from drowning. Ironically for the Pacers, this entered the league's lexicon from the many stories told by rival Pat Riley and stems from the instructions on a whitewater rafting trip he once went on. "Be an active participant in your own rescue" is how it goes. Don't just wait for the lifeline. Fight to get to it.

Perhaps that's one of the things Hibbert thought about on the water with George on Tuesday evening.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to get going," Hibbert said. "I feel I was making a lot of excuses over the second half of the season. I decided to take it into my own hands."

The Pacers are still in a major fight in this series. The Wizards had numerous things going against them and still almost pulled it out. They were ahead in the fourth quarter and were a defensive stop or two away from going up 2-0 in the series.

Among the things not expected to be seen again this series: The Pacers had only eight turnovers, the Wizards only had one fast-break point and Washington shot a miserable 5-of-21 from 3-point range in a major comedown from their 10-of-16 performance in Game 1.

It's hard to see this type of game playing out again. What has the possibility to sustain, though, is Hibbert. He's one giant variable in this series.

Perhaps this was the start of a new consciousness by which he'll rediscover the form that was so vital in making the Pacers the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed. Or perhaps not.

"I'm just going to try to control the things I can control," Hibbert said. "Consistency hasn't been my biggest friend this year."

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