HANG TIME, Texas — Patrick Beverley knows a thing or two about rough crowds.
There were those throaty and angry Euro League road games earlier this season when he played in St. Petersburg, Russia. There the seasons in Ukraine and Greece when he was pelted with coins and played with a bloodied face.
And, of course, there were those mornings on the mean streets of his native Chicago when just getting to school was a challenge.
So even though he’ll be regarded as public enemy No. 1 for taking OKC’s Russell Westbrook out of the playoffs when he hits the floor for Game 5 against the Thunder tonight, Beverley says he’ll barely notice.
The rookie point guard has been the target of vitriol on Twitter and on call-in radio shows ever since his attempted steal and collision with Westbrook in the second quarter of Game 2 resulted in a torn medial collateral ligament and a seat on the sidelines for the rest of the playoffs.
Police even investigated a part-time worker for the Thunder who had tweeted a death threat.
“You know what, that type of pressure really doesn’t get me,” said Beverley. “With the type of pressure I used to growing up as a kid, walking to the corner store without having something happen to me, I could really care less about Twitter or anything like that. It was just hard trying to go to school some mornings growing up.”
Beverley has been a hit with Rockets fans since he joined the team in January and steadily began to get more and more playing time. With Jeremy Lin sidelined by a bruised chest muscle, he started Games 3 and 4 and could be back in the starting lineup tonight, depending on Lin’s status.
In an arena known as Loud City, the hoots and criticism could hit unprecedented decibel levels.
“It’s going to be fun,” Beverley said. “I’m looking forward to all the boos and stuff. I understand the crowd is going to be amped up and I hope that is going to get us more focused.
“Every time you catch the ball, you’re going to hear boos, so at least I get to release some of the pressure off (former Thunder member James Harden).”
The 6-foot-1 guard is averaging 12 points and four assists in the series, including 16 points and a key late blocked shot in the Rockets 105-103 win on Monday night. He laughs and shakes his head when reminiscing about the road game atmospheres in Europe, where the fans in Greece were especially hostile.
“I’ve been hit in the face with quarters and played with blood running down my face,” Beverley said. “It’s worse over there, but I’ve got a feeling it’s gonna be pretty bad (in OKC) too.”