If you want to understand Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley, watch the sequence with just under 15 seconds remaining of Sunday’s game against the Trail Blazers.
Holding a two-point lead, Portland tries to inbound to Mo Williams. Beverley swipes at the pass from behind, and the ball goes out of bounds with Beverley chasing it into the stands.
The officials rule the ball went off Beverley, but as he returns to the court, he manically gestures with his right hand for the referees to review the call.
As he does that, he walks to Damian Lillard and plants his left hand in Lillard’s chest. At best, Beverley was preparing to defend Lillard in case there were no review and the Trail Blazers quickly inbounded the ball. At worst, Beverley was being a pain.
Either way, Lillard slaps Beverley’s hand away. Beverley removes his mask – something he often does during dead balls, but in this case, something that also looks like a scrap-starting gesture.
An official steps between the two, and they both go their benches.
The review concludes Portland keeps the ball. On the next inbound, Beverley fouls Wesley Matthews.
Though he didn’t succeed in forcing a turnover, Beverley at least sent an 83 percent free-throw shooter (Matthews) rather than an 87 percent free-throw shooter (Williams) to the line.
Matthews splits the pair, allowing James Harden to hit the game-tying 3-pointer on the other end. Houston wins in overtime.
That’s Beverley – always pushing the line between pesky and dirty, seeking any edge possible.
Unsurprisingly, Lillard doesn’t like that.
“You’ve got somebody out there that want to try to be bumping and doing little slick stuff. You know what I mean?” Lillard said in a CSN Northwest video. “I’m not going to buy into it, but I’m also not going to just let it fly. I’m going to say something. I mean, that’s what he does. I don’t really care for that, but I’m just not going to let somebody be all in my chest, doing all this extra stuff. That’s not basketball.”
During their mini altercation late in regulation, Lillard said he told Beverley only, “What are you doing?”
In overtime, Lillard fouled out on an offensive foul, striking Beverley in the face as he drove by. Beverley – often to Lillard’s dismay – drew most of the six fouls.
“Everybody knows what he does to get under people’s skin,” Lillard said.
Personally, I love Beverley’s scrappy style. But I don’t have to play against him.
The first step to beating Beverley is understanding his tactics, and it sounds like Lillard is there. The next step is using that knowledge to prevent Beverley from bugging the heck out of you.