Beverley’s latest antics were bush league

By Jeff Caplan,

VIDEO: Chris Webber and Rick Fox discuss Patrick Beverley’s defense

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Is Patrick Beverley a dirty player?

Portland’s Damian Lillard thinks the ornery Houston Rockets point guard takes his agitating tactics beyond the spirit of the game. During last year’s first-round playoff series, Russell Westbrook certainly didn’t appreciate Beverley’s controversial lunge — hustle play or reckless theatrics? — as he pulled up near the Thunder bench to call a timeout. Even so, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks and star Kevin Durant were quick to exonerate Beverley.

Tuesday night was the first time Westbrook and Beverley were back on the same court since the April injury. After the Thunder’s morning shootaround, Westbrook, preparing for just his ninth game back from a third surgery related to the initial injury, stared straight ahead with no interest in giving legs to questions about animosity toward Beverley.

“I don’t care about it to tell you the truth,” Westbrook said. “It’s got nothing to do with me.”

And then Beverley made it all about Westbrook, again. The two tangled immediately with Beverley’s hyperactive defensive tactics stirring up emotions. Then, midway through the first quarter, Westbrook nearly lost it, and for good reason. Just like in the playoff game, he dribbled toward the Thunder bench to call a routine timeout. Beverley brazenly ran up on Westbrook, bumped him torso to torso and got his hands up around Westbrook’s chest.

Westbrook quickly shoved him back as the Thunder bench rose and players and coaches from both teams converged in a completely unexpected and intensely bizarre moment of deja vu. Beverley got hit with a technical.

What did Westbrook think?

“Nothing,” he said. “Just win the game. That’s what my whole objective is, win the game.”

At least in the playoff game, Beverley could go to the video and rightfully claim that he went low on Westbrook targeting the ball, seeking to swipe it before Westbrook could call the timeout, and thus the ensuing collision was purely circumstantial and wholly unintentional.

Not this time. This move was reckless, irresponsible and unnecessary. It was bush league with no intention to make a steal, no intention beyond igniting emotions to potentially dangerous levels between nemeses. Throughout the Thunder’s eventual 106-98 victory, skirmishes flared among multiple players. Three technicals and a Flagrant 1 were called.

Beverley, whose edginess and agitating defense is a needed and appreciated ingredient in the offensive-minded Rockets’ success, said he approached Westbrook as he does every other opponent on every night. It wasn’t personal, he said.

“That’s how I play against everybody,” Beverley said. “No personal battles against anybody. I go out there and fight and do what I do to try to win a basketball game.”

Brooks didn’t seem as sure this time as he did in April.

“You saw the same thing I saw,” Brooks said. “There’s really not much to talk about.”

Said Rockets coach Kevin McHale: “He should be aggressive. This is a game where you play aggressive, good things happen.”

Not this time. Beverley’s over-the-top aggression earned him three first-half fouls, rendering him virtually impotent to slow the bigger, stronger Westbrook, who maintained his composure and shredded Beverley for 24 points on 6-for-14 shooting, plus 11-for-14 at the free-throw line. Westbrook scored nine consecutive points and 11 of 15 during the key stretch of the game during the second quarter to give OKC a 56-41 halftime lead. He opened the third quarter by blowing by Beverley for a layup.

“He just went out there to play to win,” Durant said. “That’s how Russ always plays, with that edge, that intensity.”

Beverley’s teammates defended him with similar words, that his play was not out of character, that the snarling, unbridled tenacity is part of the package.

“Unfortunately it was Russell, but Pat is going to play the same way no matter who it is,” James Harden said. “Unfortunately it was him caught in that situation, but Pat is going to do the same thing Thursday [against the Bulls]. That’s how he makes his money. That’s his identity.”

Nobody wants to change that. But Beverley must understand there are limits of aggression for even the most dogged competitors.

Because nobody wants to be known as being dirty.


  1. BadAd says:

    wow.. the nba is getting too soft.

  2. killa13 says:

    Beverly plays dirty, Howard always whines, Lin is overpaid, Harden flops on every contact…
    McHale even coaches dirty, if that is a thing lol. Houston Rockets will lose to Golden State or Portland.

  3. Flexy says:

    The NBA is no longer FANTASTIC…sorry Dikembe….this article makes me sick, so he bumped the guy after he called timeout, its not like he flipped him over or something. He sent a messgae, and that message was I will be in your head on and off the court. I like Beverly, he plays old school ball, and old school ball wasn’t “dirty” it was manly, it was rough, poeple actually played D, fights were actual fights, injuries were actual injuries. These days you sneeze on the court and its a techinical/flagrant foul if you weren’t aiming at the ball. this article just makes me sad, Beverly keep doing what you do man, I enjoy the fact that atleast someone isn’t afraid of actually playin some D and playin some Ball, the rest of dem pansies need to go play table tennis or somethin…some of these so called ballers couldn’t last a minute out on da court where I’m from, one foul would send dem crying home to their mama

    • James says:

      Ok if you feel that way then Westbrook should have elbowed him in the face right after the unnecessary contact. Hey its just hard nose basketball no harm no foul.

  4. Hugo Jacks says:

    If you’ve watched Beverley more than just a few times (i.e. when he’s playing your favorite team), you’d be smart enough to recognize that he’s NOT a dirty player; instead, he’s an aggressive defender – who (on occasion) makes overly excessive-aggressive tactics, annoys PG’s to death & after a couple of series whem he’s backed off, he’ll comes at you when you least expect it.

    I get why some think his style is dirty but this whole situation never would have been blown up by the media had Westbrook not torn his ACL last year, which – despite what I’ve read on some posts below – was 100% CLEAN and TIMELY move by Bev that happened to be a freak injury for Westbrook (Tuesday’s game was probably a bit much but blown out of proportion because it was on Westbrook)….Not to mention that those of you who remember the previous OKC/HOU playoff game (before RW injury) that Westbrook did the EXACT same thing to Lin (as Beverly did to him)….

  5. isb says:

    You have discussed Patrick Beverley in a way that strongly suggests that he is a dirty player. I have one question. What do you call Kevin Durant punching the Rockets player and only receiving a T, and not being thrown out of the game the same way Hamilton was on the same kind of play in a previous game? Is what Durant did a basketball play? Because unbiased reporters like Rick Fox definitely agreed during the broadcast that Beverley was not playing dirty and that his play was a basketball play. However, I’m not sure what to make of Durant punching a player and not being thrown out. Where is the article about OKC playing dirty? Did you watch the calls where no-one could touch an OKC player but it was okay to throw down Harden (Adams)? Or allow Jackson to do to Harden what Patrick did to Russell and get no call even as Jackson continues to run his mouth? And once again, Durant isn’t thrown out after punching a player without any non-basketball act from the punch receiving player?

    What I see you and the league doing is a whole lot of babying and covering up for the potential championship contenders. At least as reporters you could discuss the game being disgusting on both ends, and discuss how there were potentially non-basketball plays on both ends. Instead you choose to pick on the non-superstar player doing his job.

  6. You Don't Say says:

    Lol at people who thinks Beverley is an elite defender. Look at the stats and all the games he started his opponent PGs still shoot over their season average. Tell me what exactly, stats wise, he is an elite defender. Just because he “looks” active does not mean it is effective.

  7. ... says:

    Sure you could make the case that what he did in the Playoffs was unintentional. But c’mon, what he did in the recent game when Russ was about to call for time was CLEARLY a dirty and an uncalled for move. Anyone who argues that it isn’t is stupid.

  8. angelo says:

    I did not see anything excessive on any play. He gives up atleast 30 pounds a night from the guy he guards. He’s a defensive-minded player. And great defensive players like Battier, Bowen, Rodman, Stockton, etc., play not just with their feet and hands but also with their minds. They distract, disrupt, and make you think twice before you touch the ball. Because that is his job. Technically that is every players job. But just because less and less of perimeter players plays real defense and not just steal-gamblers, Beverly’s aggressiveness gets magnified. And also because of whiny little players he pester.

  9. Carlo says:

    Beverley is pushing Westbrook ’cause he knows Westbrook has much more brawn than brain.
    We’ve seen him going mad too many times. Most times he escapes the T or even the double-T because of his star status.
    But, anyway, a mad-at-you opponent is always probably going to do silly things like stupid fouls or useless over-shooting.
    Good defense tricks which add up to very good defense technique (Westbrook should watch and learn how to D).

    • jake s. says:

      Are you referring to the way Westbrook punished Beverley a few nights ago? You started off strong but ended up stupid.

  10. asdf says:

    Calling pat a dirty defender is the same as calling good defense, dirty defense, Should he have done what he did against westbrook? no its was dumb and he got a tech for it,

    But pat is playing great guard defense, He makes opposing guards work much harder on offense. But sometimes he gets alittle bit to agressive and picks up bad fouls, but he will learn, I see him as an all nba defensive guy in a year or 2.

  11. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    @GP Hope you are not the glove.

    Sending in a 7 foot 300 pounds to punch your head or grab your neck everytime you go to the basket is dirty. Playing mindgames with your opponent is not. Get it right.

    The league is soft is relevant to this. Since everyone is yoyo with Defense right now so what you see is not common these days. Back in the 80s, 90s, Detroit, Chicago, Indiana, New York, Seattle, Utah etc all played great defense. A play like this is normal. Why people hate Bowen? Because he gets under your skin. Same with Rodman\s antics, remember Frank Brickowski?

  12. IDOL says:

    This writer is as soft as russell westbrook or even worse. Please. This is the NBA not your daughter’s peewee soccer games.

  13. GP says:

    All these comments about league being too soft is irrelevant….

    if you guys watched the play, westbrook already called the timeout and the whistle was already blown for players to go to their respective bench…. beverley trying to last second body up and bump westbrook even after the ball is dead is dirty and immature. There’s literally no point in him doing that except to maybe show how tough and feisty he is, which is both prideful and stupid. And in worst case scenarios can lead to injuries… oh wait?! that already happened….

    And don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge Beverley as a talented defender. I would even say that he’s a top 15 premier PERIMETER defender. He’s got good on-ball defense and footwork. He plays with heart and guts but that don’t change the fact that he plays dirty.

  14. okc2014 says:

    Hey, what’s wrong with woman’s soccer? I happen to think my niece is quite good…And they can be aggressive too.

  15. NLC says:

    Houston Rockets–Flopmasters, Dirty Play, McHale’s end of game antics calling KD out, when he was clearly in, to get a timeout so McHale could coach up his team eventhough Rockets didn’t have the ball. Dwight Howard holding fouls and Beverly’s late hits. I guess Rockets aren’t good enough to win by their Basketball skills.

  16. NBA Fan says:

    Respect to westbrook in a sense. After last years incidient, and beverley doing it again in last nights game, a lot of lesser players would knocked beverleys head off….Shows how Westbrook is maturing – not rising to that type so called aggresive defense.

    id like to see beverley pull those stunts on JR smith, metta world peace…they would have no time for that. 😛

  17. bballjunkie1 says:

    Beverly is a great one just hopes he can keep it in check and not get suspended in a close series as I am sure that will be where OKC heads will be, make him a non factor because he will bite and go there. Good defense too see!!

  18. Jesus Christ says:

    Westbrook is too soft for Beverley.

    Anyone who thinks Beverley’s defense is too “aggressive” or “dirty” needs to go back to watching women’s soccer.

    The Rockets have been a surprisingly exciting team to watch this season partly becasue of Beverley’s hustle plays.

    It’s sad and unfair that Beverley’s aggressive and energetic style of play is frowned upon in this league.

    NBA = WNBA

  19. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    League right now is already soft as tissue since you can never breathe in the direction of star. What’s so wrong with Pat’s D? If Rocket’s/Pat’s intention was to injury Westbrook they should sent someone other than a 6-1, 185 pg.

    It’s just nice to see this kind of no back down from anyone defense and I love how he kept doing stuff trying to get into RW’s head.

  20. KDfan says:

    Perfect storm! Patrick Beverly meets Kevin McHale. Need I say more? I agree with Jeff Caplan. Pat in his frenzy crosses the border of agrressive defense and goes into being reckless and thus dangerous, and doesn’t realize it. It is McHale’s duty and resposibility to make sure he does not allow this to happen, thus avoiding serious injury to opponents (which he doesn’t care) and to Pat (which I think he doesn’t care about either).

  21. MG says:

    The thing I think a lot of people are missing here is that on both play in the 2013 playoffs and last night, Westbrook was not about to call a timeout. The timeout had already been called! So it wasn’t a lunge to steal the ball before a timeout could be called, but a reckless play after the whistle had been blown.