Roy Hibbert is keeping his head down, in understated interviews and on the court.
The Indiana Pacers’ 7-foot-2 center spoke in the preseason about keeping his focus on basketball in his seventh NBA season. That meant establishing himself aggressively when playing and not making headlines for controversial statements afterward.
Hibbert had his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday night’s 88-86 victory over the Charlotte Hornets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana improved to 5-7 with its fourth win in five games.
“We’re just trying to plug along and make things happen,” Hibbert said. “You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low.”
Hibbert is averaging 14 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds. His three blocked shots per game rank second in the league. He entered this season with career averages of 11.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
While the Pacers don’t expect Hibbert to put up gaudy scoring numbers every night, an emphasis is always placed on his rebounding and being a defensive stopper as a rim protector. He’s been consistent in both areas.
One early season trend has been the Pacers’ ability to rebound. Despite relying on a short-handed lineup with so many reserves playing quality minutes, the Pacers have outrebounded their opponents in 10 games.
When the Pacers grab at least 50 rebounds in a game, they’re 3-1. They’ve had double digits in offensive rebounds in 11 games.
“We’re a big, strong team,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s something we emphasize, especially at the defensive end. We make a habit of boxing out. We are growing in confidence.”
Reserve forward Lavoy Allen is second on the team with 7.5 rebounds per game. He’s also averaging 7.3 points. Forward Luis Scola, thrust into a starting role with David West sidelined, is averaging 7.1 rebounds.
“They have a lot of talent,” Hibbert said of his teammates. “Lavoy (Allen) gets what I call ‘man rebounds’ a lot, you know, one on three, he’s going up it there and getting it, coming down with authority. That goes a long way to help us win. It shows up on the stat sheet, but it’s really, really big for us.”
The Pacers host Phoenix Saturday night.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.