Pat Beverley’s all-out effort something to see, enjoy

April 17, 2017 GMT

This was supposed to be all about James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

The MVPs. The TV debate that never ends. The international superstars. The ...

Oh, whatever.

This is now about Patrick Beverley.

He made me do it. I had no choice.

Game 1, round one.

Rockets 118, Oklahoma City 87. Beverley a career playoff-high 21 points, 10 rebounds and so much passion, heart and desire that you could have plugged Toyota Center into little ol’ No. 2 Sunday night and lit up the entire arena just off Beverley’s fight.


The guy the NBA never wanted and finally couldn’t keep away.

Often the best overall player on the court during Game 1, when all we were supposed to care about was Harden, Westbrook and the never-ending MVP race.

“That (bleep’s) over,” Beverley said Friday, warning us of what was to come.

Then he went out and proved it, inspiring us all.


Beverley got all up in Westbrook’s face, left the likely MVP cold and steaming, helped force No. 0 to shoot a weak 6-of-23 from the floor, and played a heavy hand in forcing nine Westbrook turnovers.

He pounded his chest, danced, screamed, proudly kicked out his leg and turned face-first to all the rows of red, soaking up the noise, pride and love.

Two days prior, I wrote that Beverley versus Westbrook was the real matchup you had to watch. All their past history. All the mutual respect that doubled as on-court fury.

Two days later, Beverley – all 6-1, 185 pounds of him – became a national Twitter trending topic and had 18,055 absolutely adoring a fifth-year guard who once backed up Jeremy Lin.

“Tonight? He does it every night,” Harden said of the teammate he shared a postgame podium with.

Mike D’Antoni’s coached hundreds of players since his first run with Denver in 1997. After all his years in the NBA, the only player D’Antoni compares Beverley to is Raja Bell, who was a genius at getting in Kobe Bryant’s head during the best of D’Antoni’s Phoenix days and was never afraid to stand up for the Suns.

″(Bell) would get under everybody else’s skin but our team and our crowd,” D’Antoni said. “They have that type of competitive spirit. You don’t find it too often. That’s pretty rare.”

Beverley’s a Chicago kid from the streets, raised by a single mom. He bounced all over the globe just to play ball for a living and didn’t leave Arkansas on his own terms.

The Rockets reached out. Beverley hasn’t let go since.

“They really helped me. They really saved my life, you know?” he said in February, when the Rockets were still proving everyone wrong.

Everything was right about absolutely ferocious Pat Bev in Game 1.

He started the show off with back-to-back 3s, igniting the Rockets’ early 10-3 lead. He only kept burning hotter, turning 67-62 Rockets midway through the third quarter into a 73-62 stranglehold they never relinquished.


″(Beverley) impacted the game way, way more with his energy, his effort, his hustle, his loose balls, his offensive rebounding and keeping balls alive,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “That’s really where he did a great job.”

With Westbrook dribbling by in the third, Steven Adams (7 feet, 255 pounds) leveled Beverley on a hard screen. He remained on the hardwood for a few seconds, then bounced up.

Then he hit a 24-foot 3.

Then he sank another, this one from the far right wing.

“He hit some shots. He made some shots,” Westbrook said.

Yeah. I guess you could call it that.

Toyota Center shook like Harden was handed the MVP mid-game. Beverley stood and faced his crowd on his night, washed over by the roar.

“The city of Houston’s been great to me,” Beverley said.

Fearless. Relentless. Invasive and inspiring.

Game 1 was supposed to be Harden vs. Westbrook, Part V.

It was Beverley at his best. And he’s never been better.