Lillard on his "issue" with Patrick Beverly
HOUSTON – If tonight’s Houston-Portland contest was the slightest preview of what we could see should these two squads collide in the upcoming NBA playoffs, bring it on.
There are matchups galore featuring Nicolas Batum on Chandler Parsons, Robin Lopez checking Dwight Howard and Wesley Matthews chasing James Harden around.
But probably the most intense matchup of them all that’s beginning to brew is the point guard battle between Damian Lillard and Patrick Beverley.
Beverley is a hound on the defensive end. He prefers to smother the opposition with his presence, irritating his opponents.
In a 118-113-comeback victory in overtime over the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night, the Houston Rockets ended up winning the season-series 3-1.
And also tonight, Beverley personally won by getting his way on the defensive end.
The 6-foor-1 guard gets so close to his opponents on defense that the slightest bump he receives, the refs often reward him with an offensive foul call. That was the case in overtime when Lillard drove to the basket and Beverley bounced off of Lillard as if he were shoved.
Lillard was hit with his sixth personal, fouling out with 3:39 remaining in overtime, leaving Portland without its floor general down the stretch. As far as how he collected his sixth foul, Lillard said he’s not with all the antics of Beverley.
“It’s irritating,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “But I was locked into the game to be one hundred percent honest with you. It’s irritating that he’s doing all that little stuff like flopping, tying you up and all that for the whole game. But I don’t really get caught up in that. It’s whatever.”
Beverley, who takes exceptional pride in his defense, said all he’s concerned with is the win before he addressed what Lillard considers to be “antics.”
“If he thinks I’m flopping, that’s on him, not me,” Beverley told CSNNW.com. “We won. That’s all I care about.”
The two even got tangled up late in the fourth quarter and had to be separated as they where jawing at one another. Beverley, who has a broken nose, took off his protective mask as if he wanted to do more than play basketball.
“It’s basketball,” Beverley said. “That’s how basketball is. It’s not going to be pretty all the time.”
Neither player wanted to admit that two are developing a little bit of a rivalry. Both players view themselves as underdogs with something to prove.
Lillard wasn’t highly recruited out of high school and had to work his way up from the bottom. Beverley was a second-round draft pick that was forced to play a few years overseas before finally getting another shot in the league. They’re both hungry competitors, which makes this matchup fun to watch.
“I try to get up for everybody I play,” Beverley said. “It’s a tough league. I just go out there and try to stay aggressive.”
Lillard downplayed the battle and simply wishes the referees saw it differently when it came to the fouls he was called for.
“There’s no individual matchup, man,” Lillard responded. “I don’t get distracted like that. It’s not a big deal to me. It’s just frustrating when you’re the starting point guard and you’re not able to finish the game in a big game like this. It’s frustrating. You want to be out there.”
Hopefully these two teams face off again this season, but it’ll have to be in the playoffs.
“If it’s them we’ll face, we’ll be ready,” Lillard said. “I like our chances.”
Lillard registered 21 points, four rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes. Beverley supplied 12 points and four steals.
Portland (42-21) has dropped its first two games of this five-game road trip with Memphis next up on Tuesday.