Lillard calls Beverley "a pest" on defense
TUALATIN, Ore. -- When the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets lock horns this weekend in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, it’s going to be a matchup-friendly affair.
Dwight Howard versus Robin Lopez, James Harden up against Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons trying to outdo Nicolas Batum, super reserves Jeremy Lin going toe-to-toe with Mo Williams.
But without a doubt, the most intriguing, intense matchup will be at the point guard position featuring Patrick Beverley and Damian Lillard. Aside from the fact that Beverley, and his defense, arguably gives Lillard the toughest time, there’s some recent bad blood that could creep up.
The day after an early March game between these two teams, a contest the Rockets won at home 118-113 in overtime, Beverley did a local radio interview and went out of his way to respond to what he perceived to be a slight from Lillard.
The interview was coming to a close after nearly nine minutes and Beverley quickly interrupted the host as he was in the process of thanking the guard for coming on.
“Ah, you didn’t ask me no question about Damian Lillard,” Beverley said to the gentlemen on Sports Talk 790 AM in Houston, followed by urging them to ask a question about Lillard in which they did.
“…Damian Lillard whines,” he went on to say. “I’m not a big fan of that. I don’t go out there and try to start fights with anybody. I go out there and play my game. That’s what I do. I don’t go out there and try to hack people. I don’t go out there and do that.”
Beverley was responding to Lillard’s comment saying the Rockets’ defensive guard was irritating and that he tries to get under your skin to get you to react. When Lillard heard the interview and how Beverley brought up his name out the blue, he was taken back.
“I was surprised,” Lillard told CSNNW.com after practice on Tuesday. “I said that what he was doing in that game was kind of irritating. It wasn’t meant to be disrespectful. It was meant to say it was irritating. But to go on the radio and them not even ask about me and then you bring me up, I thought that was unnecessary.”
For informational purposes, in that overtime game, Lillard and Beverley got into it late in regulation, sort of. As the Rockets were waiting to see if the referees were going to look at a replay in hopes of reversing a call against them, Beverley goes over to Lillard and puts his hand on Lillard’s chest as if he was attempting to guard him. It looked more like he was trying to pester him.
The reigning Rookie of the Year immediately slapped his hand off and the two squared up with Beverley removing his facemask, a protective covering he wore for his fractured nose. The two were separated by teammates and neither was penalized. That, mixed with Beverley’s aggressive style of play, led to Lillard’s postgame comments and subsequently Beverley’s comeback remarks on the radio the next day.
To be frank, this is shaping up to be one hell of a first round series.
When asked today if the two needed to talk before the series began in order to clear the air, since all this was just a simple misunderstanding, Lillard rebuffed that notion.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Lillard responded. “I don’t have no beef with the dude. He’s competing just like I’m out there competing and that’s it. There’s nothing to hash out because we’re not best friends. We don’t know each other off the floor. There’s nothing really to hash out. But I respect him as a player, but the radio and all that stuff, that’s not my style. It was unnecessary.”
There’s clearly respect from both sides. Beverley was disturbed that Lillard didn’t give him his due credit as he made that clear in the radio interview. Lillard didn’t feel he was criticizing Beverley’s play with his comments, but contends that radio interview was over the top.
He says this series isn’t going to be about them. He stresses it’s the Portland Trail Blazers versus the Houston Rockets. He wants to do his part to the best of his ability, but most importantly, he wants to get the win.
“Yeah, I want to win the matchup,” Lillard said. “I think my team has a better chance if I’m able to play well against him. But I’m not going in thinking I have to outplay him. I have to go out there and be myself. That’s it. He’s one of the toughest defender out there. It’ll be fun.”
Again, this is going to be one hell of a series.