Just in case anyone forgot, Patrick Beverley is a grown ass man.
Tough, combative, unrelenting and unapologetic in doling out the kind of on-ball defensive menace that never relaxes, it’s a given that no one who’s had to face Beverley has ever thought otherwise.
But after returning from left knee surgery to log 11 points, three assists and a career-high tying three blocks to help the Rockets roll past the Trailblazers 126-109 on November 17 at the Toyota Center, he felt the need to remind everyone in his own way.
“It was supposed to be a lob, but my lob passes are shitty,” Beverley said, while describing a pass to Clint Capela that almost got away from both of them.
Never one to mince words, he interjected when one of the reporters surrounding his locker for post-game quotes suggested they’d censor the expletive in his statement.
“Nah, you don’t have to, I’m a grown ass man,” Beverley said, before diving right back into the play. “I tried to throw a bullet in there. I’m just happy he caught it and I didn’t hit nobody in the stands.”
If there was ever an exchange that exemplified who Beverley is, as a man and a player, that was it.
Scrappy, chippy and disruptive, Beverley is a nightmare for opponents. He makes bringing the ball up the court, a play that should be like going downhill, an uphill battle.
He is disliked by almost everyone that faces him, a badge of honor he wears proudly, but his dogged determination and willingness to treat every defensive play like the high-stakes round is exactly what Houston will need moving forward if they want to stay above the NBA mean in the Western Conference and make a deep run in the postseason.
“Pat’s a dog,” Harden said. “He brings a lot to our team, especially on the defensive end."
There’s a certain level of pride in doing one thing so well as to be completely defined by it.
To that end, Beverley revels in his reputation in giving opposing players the whole 94 as a defensive stopper.
“I lay my hat on defense and I’m going to continue to lay my hat on defense,” Beverley said. “I take that approach. I put myself and my teammates in position to make a lot of plays defensively that lead to our early offense.”
A recent example of Beverley’s ability to turn defense into offense came early in the first quarter of the Rockets 126-190 win over the Jazz on November 19 at the Toyota Center.
Fighting through a double screen set by Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood near the top of the key, Beverley, in just his second game back from left knee surgery, stripped Gordon Hayward in the middle of a fancy, behind-the-back dribble and took it the other way in a blur for a wide open layup.
Houston went up 8-4, forcing head coach Quin Snyder to call a lighting quick timeout to regroup.
“Well, Pat, he’s all in and that’s what I like about him,” D’Antoni said. “He’s all in and understanding the game, talking the game, watching film, understanding the game plan, understanding the players. I think our defense is getting a lot better with him out there because of his toughness. He is smart and plays with an edge. You’ve got to have that.”
Considering Beverley’s relentless fervor on the defensive end, it’s easy to surmise via snapshot analysis that his greatest value is in spelling James Harden in spurts, standing in the corner for spot up three-pointers and, of course, taking on the other team’s offensive stalwart in the backcourt.
But further analysis reveals that the unforeseen bonus to having Beverley, formerly known as the starting point guard, is his ability to stabilize the team’s second unit, which highlights the scoring prowess of Eric Gordon.
"Having Patrick back helps that second unit a lot," Harden said. "It helps Eric, getting him the basketball, Nene. That group, once they get familiar with each other, will start clicking and get a lot better."
Case in point: during the second quarter against the Jazz, Beverly racked up a team-high four assists, easily finding his groove setting up the offense to get the most of out of guys like Nene, Gordon, Corey Brewer and Sam Dekker when Harden is on the bench.
“I just wanted to come in and make sure I have that group under control,” Beverley said. “We can run and we can still get the same type of shots. We want to play fast, we want to play smart at our pace and we did that tonight. Shared the wealth, put some points on the board, got some stops when we needed it.”
It all comes back to defensive stops for Beverley. He can't shake who he is, what got him here.
Hard work, grit and a healthy dose of not backing down.
But it's his offensive efficiency that's really bolstering the Rockets, who have won 5 out of 6 games since Beverley returned.
With Beverly in the starting lineup, Houston has gone from scoring 115 points per 100 possessions to 131.
"It’s good to have him back, adding him makes it a lot easier," Harden said. "He allows me to play off the ball a little bit, he make plays and he does a really good job of just getting to his spots and making the right decisions."
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