The Indiana Pacers came into Thursday's matchup against the New York Knicks hoping to take down their second straight elite Eastern Conference opponent. If the Pacers do pull off the victory, they may have to do so without center Roy Hibbert, who left in the first half of Thursday's game with back spasms, per Newsday's Al Iannazzone:
Pacers center Roy Hibbert has back spasms and is questionable to return.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) January 11, 2013
UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 10 at 10 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
Roy Hibbert returned to the floor in the third quarter of Thursday's game against the New York Knicks, according to the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers tweeted:
Roy Hibbert returns to the court after battling back spasms.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 11, 2013
--- End of Update ---
The seven-footer left the game with a little more than two minutes remaining in the first quarter and was replaced by Ian Mahinmi. Though he seemed mostly in form while on the floor, Hibbert was seen on the sidelines being attended to by trainers and did not return when Indiana came out to start the second period.
If his night is over, Hibbert would finish with one point and two rebounds in 10 minutes of action. Though Hibbert going down is a blow on just about any night, the Pacers were especially counting on Hibbert on Thursday to deal with the Knicks’ Tyson Chandler.
Unfortunately for Indiana, it seems like that task will be left up to Mahinmi, who came into Thursday averaging 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. If Hibbert's back injury causes an extended absence, Mahinmi will undoubtedly see an extended role from his 16.4-minute average.
An extended absence would also mark the first time Hibbert missed an extended period of time since his rookie season. The seven-footer has been remarkably healthy throughout his career, only missing one game in each of his past three seasons.
Be sure to check back in for the latest updates on Hibbert’s health and possible return date.