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James Harden admits Rockets were sidetracked by overly-emotional play of Patrick Beverley

Mar 12, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT

beverley westbrook AP

The contest between the Rockets and the Thunder on Tuesday had far more drama than necessary for a regular season game between two of the West’s top teams.

It was the first time that Russell Westbrook had faced Houston since going down with a season-ending knee injury in last year’s playoffs, which meant a rematch against the intentionally pesky Patrick Beverley — and that led to some fireworks.

The Beverley-Westbrook matchup was insanely intense from the opening tip, and came to a head when Beverley pulled the same move that ultimately caused Westbrook’s injury, grabbing him as he headed to the sidelines to call a timeout.

Beverley’s play might have been overly-aggressive last year, but it was a deliberate attempt to get Westbrook to lose it this time around. And it worked, but just briefly; the end result was OKC and Westbrook largely getting fired up, while the Rockets seemed to come undone during a stretch of cold shooting that put them in too large a hole to be able to dig out of.

James Harden was involved in an incident with the Thunder’s Reggie Jackson and another with Steven Adams, and admitted afterward that all of the non-basketball stuff was too much of a distraction.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Yet for all the chances they might have had down the stretch — most ending when Beverley plowed into Westbrook again, this time while the Thunder star was shooting a 3-pointer with 91 seconds remaining and the Rockets within five — the Rockets knew they had done too much damage in a 10-minute stretch in the first half when they missed all 12 of their shots amid all the histrionics and hysteria of the night.

“I think so,” James Harden said when asked if the Rockets were sidetracked by the chaos. “If we just stick to what we do, do it to the best of our ability no matter what else is going on, we’ll be good. Sometimes we get off and kind of get distracted a little bit. When everybody is on the same page, it’s just better.”

Beverley has embraced the role of being a professional irritant, but especially against the Thunder and Westbrook, he took it too far.

There would have been nothing wrong with standing up to Westbrook, who undoubtedly came out against Beverley with even more of a chip on his shoulder than usual. But the non-stop trash talk and the move to grab Westbrook on the sideline was too much, and only served to unite the Thunder in dismantling the Rockets.

  1. reesesteel23 - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Being a pest doesn’t help you win championships. Get a real starting PG.

    • jonevans511 - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      Tell that to the badboys on the Pistons. You gotta be smart, but getting in to the heads of the opponent isn’t a bad move.

      • petey62 - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        jonevans511, you gotta be “talented”. The Bad Boys had one of the best PGs to ever play the game in Isiah Thomas. They got physical but they could play too. Also, if you’re going to be an irritant, you have to back it up with your play at some point.

        Beverley isn’t a good enough player to resort to that nonsense. That’s why he has to resort to it but this time, it backfired. That only goes counter to what the Rockets are trying to accomplish.

        When a star teammate admits it’s a distraction, maybe it’s time to simply play the game and leave all the headgames alone.

      • reesesteel23 - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        dot dot dot…if it works

      • bigmeechy74 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        they had a decent starting pg thought. his name was something thomas. he was ok

    • krespino - Mar 15, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      There was nothing wrong with Beverly’s play in last year’s game. It was not overly-agrressive, it was a normal play; only Westbrook was careless. Face that fact. Any clever player would do that any time.
      In this year’s game Beverly might have been aggressive. It’s his choice. There is no rule that says every player should be very nice all the time. Whether his team has been negatively affected by his aggressiveness is another story; they don’t have to be affected. Sometimes aggressive play from a player would be helpful to his team, it sparks tehm up.

  2. beach305 - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    This tactic only get’s you so far. The bulls employ this against the Heat during the regular season and it works. But during the playoffs when Miami is just as motivated, it back fires on the Bulls and starts resulting in tech’s and lost tempers.

    Talent always wins in the End.

    • lj312chicago - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      Bulls lost the last two playoff series to the Heat…..in the last 5 minutes of almost all of those games….they lost because of lack of scoring in clutch time……not because they “employ this against the Heat”……

    • nickjackalson - Mar 13, 2014 at 5:19 AM

      heard that in the end..everyone dies, too?

  3. jigwig13 - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Beverly is lucky Perkins wasn’t playing last night…I don’t think he would’ve have stood for the non sense..

  4. pfic15 - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Beverly sounds like a prick. Wouldn’t have known if not for that crap he pulled against OKC last year.

    • moseskkim - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      beverley may be a pest and annoying but he has plenty of heart. hes got a starting gig on a championship contender and plays dang hard. most everyone focuses on offense. this guy pours out his soul on defense. yeah that play on Westbrook was dirty and even dirtier this time around but otherwise, he is all heart. takes no plays off and is improving his offensive game while hitting some 3’s.

  5. sumkat - Mar 12, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    Houston team has no heart, and wont win anything. They’ll be lucky if they are still around in the 2nd round

    • brookwell2013 - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:28 PM

      whoa look at all the thumbs down…….no worries sumkat….I agree with you. Everyone forgets that Harden rode the bench on our Olympic team because he couldn’t hit a lake if he fell out of a boat. The last year he played for OKC his shooting was dreadful as well. Doesn’t matter how he shoots and how much he scores in the regular season…..when the playoffs start he goes flat out stone cold…..don’t cha harden????

      • au1978 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:27 PM

        He didn’t last year. Besides, this year he has more help.

  6. pharohislife - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    While it is clear that the Rockets did get sidetracked by Beverley’s antics which played some role in the loss the blame can’t all be put on him. He’s a role player, the real issue was the Rockets Secondary Star Dwight Howard not stepping up.

    To Only score 9 points on 4/12 shooting in 32 Minutes is unacceptable. As one of if not THE best center in basketball and to not impose your will at any point in the game is a flat out shame. He sometimes plays as if he doesn’t know he’s the 2nd best player on the team and that’s just not gonna get it done in the playoffs, which I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays this same way for certain stretches or games then as well.

    • reesesteel23 - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      PG needs to get him the ball. No excuse for him to only have taken 12 shots.

      • pharohislife - Mar 12, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        Some of that’s on Dwight Howard. As the teams 2nd best player and best big man you HAVE to demand the ball. Post up where you want it and demand the ball big man.

      • krespino - Mar 15, 2014 at 8:09 PM

        A center taking 12 shots should be scoring much more than 9 points (a total of 9 points… wow.)
        If the idiot keeps wasting the shots why should Beverly give him more balls… for wasting more?
        Howard needs some of the aggressivenes and will to win that Beverly has and shows.
        When your center is wasting so many shots you’re not winning against the OKC, no matter if your PG has sidetracked or whatever nonsense..

    • au1978 - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      Actually, you can’t blame a loss on just one player, period. It’s a team sport. None of them was flawless. The 12 missed shots speaks for itself. Yeah, D12 could have played better, and he admitted that, but again, you can’t blame the loss on just him.

  7. savvybynature - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    I think they lost because they missed shots while Durant and Westbrook made tough ones.
    To put it all on Beverley makes for a nice media narrative, but that’s all it is. In the quotes provided Harden doesn’t even mention Beverley (which makes the headline misleading imo)
    If you want to blame someone, how about Howard having a fairly terrible night despite OKC starting a rookie center?

  8. biggredbird76 - Mar 12, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    first of all the article has some things in it that are not true. bev did not go for the steal when that time out was called. second of all Westbrook lowered his shoulder, and that is when bev grabbed him bev did not go for a steal like he did last year in the playoffs.

  9. bballhistorian - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    As a houston native…I love Beverly on the Rockets as he brings a level of toughness on the team (every team needs one in my opinion).

    But I also agree with Harden on this one. Beverlys antics woke up okc and the Rockets werent winning that game because their heads werent 100% in it. Im sure Beverly will learn from this…no matter “where you came from or what your struggles were coming up”, you cant make things personal to the detriment of your team. But im sure upper management will talk to him and he will learn.

  10. 1forest1 - Mar 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Before last night everybody was saying how good the Rockets were. Then they lose one game to the thunder, and everybody changes their opinion.

    They still need one more step to be a contender, but this is still the same team that handled the Heat, Pacers, and Blazers last week

  11. boogiefan87 - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Beverley is trying a little too much to be the new Bruce Bowen.

  12. frankyvito - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Or it could be, you know, they lost to a really good team at their house in the regular season. That stuff tends to happen.

  13. frankyvito - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    That being said I wasn’t really upset with Bev for the Westbrook injury. S*** happens. But doing the same thing last night was obviously calculated and transparent as hell. Didn’t like it. Dirty.

  14. lazykiz - Mar 15, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Ok, the first time it was an accident, and i still don’t believe that Beverly had the intention of hurting Westbrook.

    But to do the same thing again to scare him, does what? It makes you look like a joke, a dirty player, and says you don’t have any talent.

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