Westbrook handles emotions, dominates Beverley, Rockets


VIDEO: Fan Night crew breaks down the Westbrook/Beverley battle

OKLAHOMA CITY – Loud City vented on the Rockets’ alley cat of a point guard Patrick Beverley, who returned to the scene of the crime for the first time Tuesday night bearing no remorse, no regrets and certainly no apologies.

He did come looking to scrap and claw and needle his nemesis Russell Westbrook, and it took only 44 seconds into it for the lid to pop off with the first of three intense entanglements between the two before this wild and woolly game throughout, won by the Oklahoma City Thunder, 106-98, was barely seven minutes old.

With six minutes to go in the opening quarter, Beverley solidified his role as No. 1 villain in these parts with a bold, deja vu move, running up on Westbrook as the Thunder point guard dribbled toward the OKC bench to call a timeout, just as he had done in that fateful Game 2 of the first round of the 2013 playoffs. Instead of Beverley going low as he did last April, a move that tore the meniscus in Westbrook’s right knee and landed him on the operating table — and then back there twice more — and OKC’s championship dreams on life support, Beverley went high, practically body bumping Westbrook and planting both his palms on Westbrook’s chest.

Westbrook bowed up, Beverley didn’t back down and tempers revved on both sides. The officials huddled and emerged with a technical foul on Beverley.


VIDEO: Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook get into a scuffle in the first quarter

Was the ballsy play a message from Beverley?

“No, no messages,” the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder said. “That’s how I play against everybody. No personal battles out there today, just try to go out there and fight and do what I do to try to help my team win a basketball game today.”

That didn’t happen. Beverley had a forgettable night, finishing with as many fouls (five) as points and assists combined. Westbrook dominated this round with 24 points, seven assists and four rebounds. He got to the free throw line 14 times, six on two bad fouls by Beverley behind the arc.

When Westbrook checked back into a 34-28 game in favor of OKC with 7:42 to go in the half, Brooks kept calling Westbrook’s number. He attacked the smaller Beverley, beating him off the dribble and launching to the basket. He scored nine consecutive points and 11 of 15 that put OKC ahead 56-41 at the half, a lead the Thunder would have to work to protect, and Kevin Durant made sure they did with a spectacular second half, scoring 25 of his 42 points and four of his five 3-pointers.

“He took advantage of every opportunity,” Durant said of Westbrook. “Posting little guys up, getting to the cup, getting to the free throw line, so he was great.”

It was Westbrook’s night, facing Beverley again, staying cool when the Houston guard tried to stir it up and producing a mostly composed effort that included no turnovers in 15:31 of action in the second half. Before and after the game, Westbrook was short on words, saying he held no grudges, that he’s only out to win. His coach, Scott Brooks, had more to say.

“You guys know I love Russell, and this is why I really love him — he doesn’t like the 58 point guards that he plays against,” Brooks said. “He’s not out there to make friends, he’s not out there to be anybody’s buddy and he competes with everything he has in his body. He’s about playing the right way, about playing a game that we as a coaching staff, as fans, as an organization can be proud of. And that’s what he does every single night. I will never ever think anything else that he does, he just plays the way it’s supposed to be played.”

What did Brooks think about Beverley lunging at Westbrook near the sideline again?

“You saw the same thing I saw,” Brooks said. “There’s really not much to talk about. We played a good basketball game and I’ll just leave it at that. I’m not worried about what they do and don’t do. I’m worried about what we do.”

What OKC did was end an ugly slide that was making the natives restless, and cool off a Rockets team that had won five in a row and 15 of 17. The Thunder had lost two in a row — allowing 242 points to the Suns and Lakers — and five of eight coming out of the All-Star break. Never mind that Westbrook was playing in just his ninth game and still on a minutes restriction since a near-two-month recovery from a third surgery related to the initial injury. Plus perimeter defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha and heavyweight center Kendrick Perkins are both out with injuries.

It made this third consecutive win over the Rockets this season all the more impressive. Dwight Howard, up against rookie Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka, had just nine points and 10 boards. Ibaka had 12 points and 16 rebounds. Newly signed Caron Butler, who has quickly supplanted youngster Jeremy Lamb, brought spurts of tenacious defense plus 11 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes.

“We went in there soft tonight,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.

Former Thunder sixth man James Harden started slowly and couldn’t quite bring his team back despite 28 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. He acknowledged that the high emotion delivered early, and arguably recklessly, by Beverley threw off the Rockets.

There was no doubt Beverley came in bearing fangs, but Westbrook ultimately provided the much bigger bite.


VIDEO: Durant, Westbrook lead the Thunder past the Rockets

27 Comments

  1. Nope says:

    Don’t get what Damian meant by “Dirty Player”, but when I saw that Thunder and Rockets game, he certainly seems and plays like a dirty player. You dived on Westbrook last season when he called a clear timeout, and you aimed for the knee…and now you’re doing it again…..

    Damian doesn’t whine, he’s telling the truth.

  2. codyyy says:

    STOP SAYING BEVERLY HAS STINGY DEFENSE, or lock down defense, after russel calls a timeout and u pretty much attack him and “go for the ball” that’s not defense anymore, that’s either Beverly trying to get in his head or hurt him like last time, but it doesn’t matter, rockets couldn’t beat the thunder in a 7 game series no matter who they have, even if they do hurt russel again. so yeah, bye rockets fans, stop thinking that Beverly doesn’t play dirty and a lot of times, stupid, even james harden said Beverly messed them up mentally.

  3. Frankie J says:

    I wouldn’t say Beverley is a dirty player in general, but he does do some questionable things after the fact, and i guess that’s what everyone talks about. An in your face type of defender with a lot of energy is what we all want to see, it provides a good spectacle. Definitely a chippy game last night, but what else would you expect given the history last year.

  4. Paul says:

    How can anybody dislike Westbrook, I keep liking him more and more. Go Russ!

  5. caveat13 says:

    I appreciate the aggressiveness and the energy that Bev brings for the Rockets but sometimes, he goes way overboard. He was overaggressive on this night hence those 5 fouls. He was also too focused on taking out Russ, he couldn’t buy a bucket on the offensive end. It’s good to be aggressive but you got to keep it in check.

  6. Cheng says:

    Guys……You are so ridiculous, I am not going to say he is a dirty player but his unnecessary, sneaky moves did intend to cause harm to other players and we all have seen the example or examples. Can you stop being silly and naive or next time when you do a jumpshot or a layup, do not complain where I put my feet and if you do, can I cite your guys’ commets for that?

  7. Jake says:

    Beverly is clearly a dirty (physical, whatever you want to call it) player… but is it really any surprise? Look who his coach is. McHale clotheslined Kurt Rambis back in his playing days.

  8. Kaleb D. says:

    Love this match up, 2 aggressive point guards who battle against each other. I love players who play with tenacity and reckless abandon like these guys do. Dont hate on Beverley for playing hard D, i mean when Russell Westbrook is healthy he is not only a top 5 player, but he is also the most athletic point guard in NBA history, and as last night proved even at 25% recovery he is still much better than Beverley. Playing smash mouth defense is the only thing he can do to compete with westbrook. It is because of this match up and James Harden that rockets and thunder is becoming a rivalry.

  9. Shoelaced says:

    How the hell was that dirty D?

    Westbrook was initiating all the contact, but he did it sneakily,leaning his elbow into beg on that one play and swinging his arm.

    Bev is an aggressive D player, he puts in 100%. He has championship caliber talent

  10. Tree says:

    By the way, who can ell me why every time I visit NBA.com, I get to transferred to STUPID sportal.com.au
    How to block that ugly sportal.com.au website?
    I am in Australia.

    • Bagel says:

      I have the same problem. There is an option up the top to set the US as the default but that doesn’t seem to do much for me

  11. Tree says:

    PAK did a good job, even it is not successful.
    Can not wait to see they fight again in playoff.
    It’s gonna be FUN!

  12. gudug gudug says:

    “The high emotion delivered early, and arguably recklessly, by Beverley threw off the Rockets.”-very rightly said, and the composure of Russell proves his confidence beyond doubt. However, league should take action to protect its players from such mentally sick dirty players. Russell you are the BEST!!!

  13. Jim Muncy says:

    It is pretty sad when simple good hard defense gets labeled as “playing dirty.” Playing D doesn’t mean playing dirty. It is so rare that you see hard defense like Beverly’s in the NBA that Beverly get’s into other people’s head by simply playing solid D (and that means “defense” not “dirty”).

    • mee(a)t says:

      I agree. I’m wondering where does he get the energy to defend like that

      • CDT says:

        Really? He is an average PG at best. Obviously he didn’t get in anyone’s head. Russ and KD played ball. Beverly is still playing pick-up bball. How many points did he score? How many did Russ score? Playing hard I ADORE. Playing to end someone’s career…….can’t get much lower than that. He does that because he knows he will NEVER be an elite player like Russ. Just sayin………

  14. okc2014 says:

    Beverly definitely came into the game last night with fangs. He exhibited “dirty player” moves”, but messed w/ the wrong player. Westbrook’s fire only got fueled even more. It was a very intense game and I almost thought players were going to start getting fouled out; the way it was going. Overall, I think the Thunder are showing everybody that they are still contenders. I’m convinced! Go Thunder!

  15. European says:

    Loooooool. They are talking about how important on-ball defense is?????? It is 2014, everybody else in the world try to focus on defense more than offense for ~ 30 years!

  16. Gmo says:

    Really hope they meet in the playoffs, this could be the beginning of a sweet rivalry

  17. CSN says:

    How the f— does Beverley becomes nemesis of Westbrook? Westbrook is miles ahead of Beverley. That Beverley guy is so all over himself. The only way Beverley can match Westbrook is when he does his dirty tactics (or the so-called “defense”) that makes McHale hard down low, if you know what i mean.

  18. Kirby says:

    The flopping the Rockets do is pretty unfortunate.

  19. Kirby says:

    Rockets must have so many flopping fines.

  20. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    Love how Beverley played, no backdown from westbrook. the call at the end with the 3 point shot foul was BS. That’s a reggie miller play and I thought the league now doesn’t consider that a foul. He did a good job on Westbrook but his teammates other than Harden didn’t step up. most of the time Beverley running into a pick without second defender help.

    Always appreciate hustle players, like those 80s Oakley, mason, now we have Beverley, Noah and Tony Allen.

    • HereHereBeer says:

      I agree. I like Beverley’s style and aggression, but let’s not jump on him too much with praise. He derailed a Thunder playoff run with a reckless, dog act of a play last year. Effective? Yes. But do we really want guys injuring superstars like that? It happened in Aussie Rules Football a bit and is not a pretty thing to watch.
      More aggressive defenders, but less stupid acts like diving into a player’s knee when he is stationary and about to call a time out. Protect the player, hey?

  21. jake s. says:

    Westbrook, you show that weak 2 guard who the big dog is!