Hibbert Displays ‘Law Of Verticality”

CHICAGO – Tom Thibodeau
called it a train wreck. Frank Vogel, though, took the high road, so to speak, talking about the collision near the basket, near the end of the Indiana Pacers’ 80-76 victory over Chicago at the United Center, as a “fundamental of verticality.”

It just so happened that Pacers center Roy Hibbert, exercising his verticality, sent Bulls forward Luol Deng into a position of horizontality.

Here’s the situation: Chicago trailed 78-76 with 14.1 seconds left. Deng passed inbounds to Joakim Noah, then cut backdoor on Paul George and received a pass from the Bulls center. Hibbert hurried a couple of steps across the paint to meet Deng to the right of the rim. Deng was airborne and Hibbert went up. Straight up, arms extended.

Bang! Serious body contact but no whistle. Deng went down as the crowd at United Center roared. Thibodeau threw up his arms. Hibbert wasn’t looking for a charge and didn’t get one, despite Deng’s leading elbow, but he somehow got a blocked shot. David West grabbed the ball and was fouled. Sank them both, game over.

“He’s the biggest reason why we lead the league in field-goal defense,” Vogel said a few minutes later. “He’s the best in the league at exercising the fundamental of verticality. Using his legs, getting off his feet and making a legal defensive play and earning a no-call.

“You’re allowed to jump straight up, no matter where you are, and absorb contact. When he learned that and went away from trying to draw charges like he was earlier in his career, he went from not being able to stay on the court to being one of the best defensive centers in the NBA.”

George, the best player on the floor with 34 points, said he didn’t mean to lose Deng but added: “Roy told me to send him into him. I knew I had a big back there, one of the best bigs in the league.”

Thibodeau, who vented at the officials without penalty for what little time remained, saw something different.

“In my eyes, he got wiped out,” the Bulls coach said. “I did not get an explanation. He had a layup. It was a train wreck. I’m not going to put it on the officials. A tough call went against us. We still have to get it done.”

Knowing the law of verticality and getting it enforced in the heat of the moment, on the road, might be two different things. But Vogel said he never was worried.

“It’s a legal defensive play that the refs have been honoring throughout the league with all big men,” the Pacers coach said. “It’s made the game a better game. Less guys are trying to draw charges and fall on the ground underneath athletes.”

What matters for Indiana is that one big guy is doing less of that, after seeking out charges his first couple seasons.

“Nah, I don’t take charges,” Hibbert said. “I used to, but [former Pacers big man] Jeff Foster told me it messed his back up and shaved a couple years off his career. So nah, I’m a 7-footer, I’m going to try to block a shot at the rim.”

Hibbert, who is well-known for his intensive work in the summers, focused a lot on defense with the goal of being honored for it -– for the first time -– by the league’s coaches when this season ends.

“I’m always around the rim,” Hibbert said, ” touching the man I’m guarding and still getting back. Y’know, 7-foot-2 centers from Georgetown, we always play defense.”

Hibbert didn’t need to wag a finger to make the Dikembe Mutombo connection. He isn’t quite there yet, but he is averaging 3.1 blocks (compared to 2.0 last season) and this was his 12th consecutive game with at least two rejections. The Pacers began the night No. 1, holding teams to 40.8 percent shooting, then improved by limiting Chicago to 38.4.

Said Hibbert: “That’s my staple. If my offense isn’t going, I always have to play defense. That’s not gonna slack.”


  1. Barnus says:

    Very good no call. That’s the rules. Deng should have shot a jump shot .

  2. Logic says:

    Do I have a problem with my vision? Cause Hibbert’s arms were DEFINITELY bent down.

  3. Great no-call, but I do agree that if this play is called that way, then the refs need more consistency with this particular type of call. Great defense by Hibbert. A foul shouldn’t be called just because the offensive player is not able to go over, around or through the defender to make a finish. Good, solid rim protection by the big man in this case.

  4. 123 says:

    that was a foul, hibbert jumps into deng a little. its not completely straight up, he has forward momentum.

  5. R E E says:

    I swear. Everybody seems to think that professional basketball is not a FULL contact sport. Well guess what? It is.

    These are two MEN meeting at the rim. One is attacking and the other is defending. I for one didn’t see Hibbert put his hands on Deng at all. Did you? Nor did he lunge his body towards him. He stood his ground and jumped STRAIGHT UP in the air.
    How else are you supposed to DEFEND at the RIM?

    Where I’m from that’s called, GOOD STRONG DEFENSE.

    If you think otherwise all I can say is I’d hate to be guarding you in a pick up game.

  6. Christiaen says:

    This was a foul, period.
    No contact with the ball at all by Hibbert, straight up or not, Deng is in the air and Hibbert meets him halfway with full body contact. Always a foul.
    BS-call by the refs.
    Maybe I’d have a different idea if he at least blocked the shot. I don’t see a block, only obstruction in mid-air.

  7. anthony says:

    I have watched every single Pacers game this year, and the refs have been allowing this finally! I saw in the playoffs vs the heat it worked as well, and yes it was on Lebron. That was not a foul, and what deng did is basically a flop.

    Also don’t even start with how Bulls always get screwed. That game was ugly by the refs for both teams. For a stretch I think a foul was called on every possession. Also those travel calls were a little strange.

  8. Tom says:

    I understand the verticality aspect, but Hibbert’s arms were not straight up, so I thought it was clearly a foul. I like the verticality rule, and I hate when ref’s call fouls when the player is clearly going straight up. I guess the big problem is the inconsistency, but like I said, Hibbert’s arms were down so I see this still as a foul.

  9. MaFox says:

    you can see that roy slightly jumped into deng, but when contact was made, it kinda straightened him out, so it looked like he jumped straight up.

  10. HonestGuy says:

    People say LeBron would’ve gotten the call, but LeBron gets calls because he gets hammered when near the rim, they also try to grab his arms so he can’t do a and1; it’s hardly the same.

  11. Kamote says:

    I love Deng’s game but that was a good D by Hibbert.

  12. cruzero says:

    maybe this is the situation where you need to flop.

  13. MeatSack says:

    “In my eyes, he got wiped out,” the Bulls coach said. “I did not get an explanation. He had a layup. It was a train wreck. I’m not going to put it on the officials. A tough call went against us. We still have to get it done.

    After he blames the officials, then he says “I’m not going to put it on the officials.” Lol.

  14. aha! says:

    It is not a foul, when a player jumps straight up. But this superstar “protection” must stop, because should this happen to kobe or lebron, it’s a foul.

    It’s either a foul for everyone or a no-call for everyone, no superstar cuddling please.

  15. bulls always get scew over by ref says:

    everytime bulls need a game changing shot the officials always find a way to screw them over. IMO i think always get screwed over when it comes to fouls hardly ever get the right calls or any calls at all. if hibbert would have done that to wade or lbj they would have gotten the call.

  16. kanton says:

    srsly hibbert is so overrated, his fg% is below avrg for a center

  17. jacknohara says:

    That was just plain good defense, good block, , that´s the way it should be called everytime. The problem is that if they call it all the time, Kobe would score 10 points less , and D. Wade would be out of the league because he wouldn´t be able to score anymore.

  18. bogs says:

    right on! that’s what bad about the nba officials, they’re not consistent. they make very weird and out of this world calls. i hope commis stern could review the game and make necessary sanctions. if they do it to the players, they should also do it to the officials and they are also a part of the game and sometimes the cause of the results of the games such as what happened to the bulls…

  19. aaaaaa says:

    This is a good call, but refs rarely give this type of no-call. I live in MA so I mainly watch the Celtics and Paul Pierce does this fairly often and the foul is usually called, it gets really annoying. Plus, theres also cases such as if that were LeBron or Kobe instead of Luol Deng, there could have been little to no contact in the same situation and it been a foul called. Its a real shame.

  20. Ritch says:

    I understand that most people understand the laws of verticality, but I don’t see how it applies to this play. Hibbert was clearly moving towards Deng as both players went up. In my eyes, it’s a foul.

  21. Ted says:

    Oh I agree, I’ve seen Lebron or Wade do that play several times and trust me when I say they always get the foul.

  22. Pacersfan says:

    I personally think its great defence by Hibbert, a no-call there was completely the right call! Yes Hibbert was moving but he has jumped straight up while Deng has jumped into him. If anything Deng has tried to oversell the contact. It was the right call at such a crucial point of a close game

    • bulls22 says:

      How is that a good call if he is moving? if a player leaves his feet with any moviment forward it s a foul. yes supertars get BS calls with no contact but this is somthing the 12th man on the wizards should get.

  23. Lebronh8r says:

    I agree….If that was lebron, he would’ve gotten the whistle before he left the ground. However…it wasn’t a foul at all. Hands up and his jump was a complete vertical wall.

  24. imperialpedro says:

    Of course it’s the refs fault! It’s a Damn shame Thibs can’t complain about REF’S without geting Fined thousands. Or in any other sport . ALL These Refs need to get fined or somehow disciplined when they screw up like this! That WAS A FOUL! But in the REFS case this really was just FOUL.

  25. AFC says:

    Yeah not sure on that one, his arms looked like they were coming down over Deng a bit.. usually would be a foul

  26. Willy says:

    It should have been called on Deng for charging then right? If a no call on HIbbert then it was a charge? Huh? NO call? Contact ya I think so, he was also shooting the ball wasn’t he? What kind of a rule is this, or no rule again?

  27. dattebayo says:

    That’s a foul to me because Hibbert was coming over and no center can stop on a dime to go straight up. Lu is an allstar though, how come he doesn’t get the whistle? Kobe had 6 plays like that with less contact against the Rockets and got the foul call every single time.
    And no Frank Vogel, the referees are not honoring the big men in the league for their defense plays. Brook Lopez, Omer Asik and Nikola Pekovic play flawless D at times, just standing straight with their hands up and even though they don’t move, they get called for the foul.

  28. thesniper321 says:

    don’t give me that I’m not a fool if it was lebron there would be a foul called!!!