SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Roy Hibbert helped the Indiana Pacers to a big lead and then had to nervously watch his teammates withstand Utah’s furious comeback bid.
Hibbert scored 22 points — his first game over 20 in nearly two months — to help the Pacers outlast the Jazz 105-101 on Monday night.
“I told my guys I believed in them and it was going to just come down to a free-throw game and rebounds,” said Hibbert, who fouled out with 55.7 seconds to play.
The embattled center, who got in a skirmish with the Lakers’ Carlos Boozer in a one-point loss to Los Angeles on Sunday, again played with a fiery edge and repeatedly went over 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert for inside baskets before fouling out.
“I’m trying to be as effective as possible and take good shots. Looking back at the end of last year and the summer, I can see things aren’t always going to go my way but I need to always be locked and mentally strong,” Hibbert said.
The Pacers’ center had four scoreless postseason games, setting an NBA record for most NBA postseason games with zero points by a current All-Star, and hasn’t returned to his former productive self — except when he plays the Jazz.
“He was great tonight. He was scoring in the post and making moves from the mid-post in the pick-and-roll game. That’s why he’s a special player for us,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said.
Derrick Favors had 27 points and 11 rebounds and Gordon Hayward scored 24 for the Jazz.
“For the most part, I think we played extremely hard but we just seemed to miss a lot of shots. We turned it up defensively and were more active and urgent at the end,” Hayward said.
The Pacers led 98-90 with 1 minute remaining when they Jazz nearly came all the way back from 12 points down with a 39-point fourth quarter.
Trevor Booker had a three-point play and a 3-pointer while Hayward and Favors each made two free throws to get Utah to 101-100 with 9.0 seconds left.
“We never gave up and that was impressive,” said Utah rookie Joe Ingles, who had eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
CJ Miles and Solomon Hill each made two foul shots in the final seconds to clinch the game for the Pacers.
“We are learning to finish games with this group,” Hibbert said. “Last year with Paul (George) and Lance (Stephenson) and those guys, we knew how to win, how to finish out games. We’d been through it all together.”
Reserve forward Luis Scola scored 16 points on a variety of crafty moves when Indiana’s offense bogged down.
Miles, who played his first seven seasons in Utah, had 11 of his 13 points in the first half when the Pacers raced to a big lead.
The Jazz began the fourth quarter with a 12-4 run that brought Utah to 78-74. The run was capped by an emphatic dunk by Booker that brought the crowd to its feet.
But Donald Sloan answered with a 3-pointer, Scola made two free throws and Solomon Hill converted a three-point play to lift the Pacers, winners of six of nine, right back into a double-digit lead.
Hibbert had 29 points the first time these teams met on Nov. 10 and has 52 points and 26 rebounds in the first three games of Indiana’s four-game road trip.
The Pacers led by as many as 19 in the first half before Jazz started closing the gap.
Pacers: Rodney Stuckey left the court with a sore right groin just 4 minutes into the game but returned to score 13 points in 20 minutes. … George Hill did not dress for the Pacers for the third straight game due to a left groin strain. … Hibbert pushed Gobert and pointed at him after a foul call in the second quarter and both were assessed technical fouls.
Jazz: Elijah Millsap just signed a 10-day contract Monday but appeared in the first quarter. His first shot was an air ball but he scored his first NBA basket shortly thereafter. … Jazz missed their first nine 3-point attempts. … The Jazz have now dropped four straight to the Pacers.
JUST STARTING OUT
Dante Exum, the No. 5 overall pick of last summer’s NBA Draft, made his first start and tied his career-high of 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Fellow rookie Ingles made his second start and second-year player Gobert made his fourth. “Gobert is so athletic. He is so much better than I was my second year,” Hibbert said.
FREE THROWS ARE FREE
The Pacers made 28 of 30 free throw attempts. “We were able to get to the free throw line and knock down some big free throws and that was the difference,” Hill said.
Pacers: At Golden State on Wednesday.
Jazz: At Chicago on Wednesday.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.