LeBron James has insisted that Indiana Pacers powerhouse Roy Hibbert pushes the limit when using his physical presence to protect the rim, after the Miami Heat suffered their sixth loss of the season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse last night.
James was restricted to 17 points in a 90-84 defeat for the Heat, who failed to contain Hibbert for the majority of a hard-fought clash between Eastern Conference rivals.
Following Hibbert's game-high 24 points James has credited the giant with an imposing style that blurs the lines in terms of interpreting the "verticality" rule, using his considerable frame to become very difficult to beat in the paint.
He is quoted by Slam Online as saying: "He takes a lot of teams out of what they are accustomed to doing, because he is so great at the rim, protecting the rim, and they allow him to use his verticality rule more than anyone in our league.
"We brought it tonight, and they just made more shots. We’re not the team that we want to be in April right now, and that’s OK."
The Pacers looked prime to be a constant threat to Miami's chances of retaining their NBA title this season, winning 10 successive home games in their best ever start to an NBA campaign at the Fieldhouse.
Miami can take some comfort from a difficult night against the Pacers, with Dwayne Wade shrugging off suggestions of a long-term knee problem by returning to play 34 minutes.