Dunking Roy Hibbert Was 'Like a Gazelle' in 1st Practice Since Pacers' Rest Day

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 10, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 31:  Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers celebrates during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 31, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2014 NBAE  (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Thanks to a little rest and relaxation, Roy Hibbert and his once-beleaguered Indiana Pacers teammates are feeling positively springy all of a sudden.

Per Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star the big man was reborn in Indy's first practice since its day off:

Wait, do gazelles "spring?" Maybe Hibbert could be better described as exuberantly bounding or joyously striding.

Either way, the descriptions coming from Indiana's practice ahead of an April 11 tilt with the Miami Heat are a whole lot more encouraging than they've been in a long time:

Since the All-Star break, the Pacers have completely fallen apart. Boasting the NBA's second-worst offensive rating during that span and watching helplessly as fatigue poked holes in their previously impenetrable defense, the Pacers were reeling.

Now, the fresh legs afforded by a full night off against the Milwaukee Bucks on April 9 has the starters looking brand new. And Hibbert even felt spry enough to pull off a few rare aerial feats:

This is just one practice, and we can't reasonably assume a single day off will cure everything that ails the Pacers. The interpersonal rifts created by some loss-inspired sniping are still there, and we can't just overlook that broken offense.

But we also have to remember these Pacers are just a couple of months removed from being the NBA's best team. Before the All-Star break, nobody had a higher net rating than Indy's plus-8.6. Maybe a brief period of rest will clear the air and allow Indiana to reflect on the dominance of its not so distant past, which could be even more valuable than fresh legs in the long run.

If Hibbert is feeling better, the Pacers defense suddenly has its anchor back. And perhaps a few vintage defensive stands will inspire the offense to return to its break-even level.

Then again, maybe the Heat will run roughshod over Indy when the two teams meet on Friday. With the way this season—and the matchups between these Eastern Conference rivals—have gone, there's no telling how their final regular-season meeting will turn out.

Remember, though; LeBron James sports a prominent tattoo of a lion. We all know what lions do to gazelles.