2014 NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets’ Patrick Beverley Shuts Down Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard in Game 2

Patrick Beverley Houston Rockets

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from the dominant first-quarter offensive dominance by Dwight Howard in Game 2, there have been few bright spots for the Houston Rockets in the first round. The Portland Trail Blazers have outplayed and outcoached the Rockets in every aspect of the first two games, which has helped them take a 2-0 series lead despite playing both games on the road.

In playoff losses, the tendency for most fans is to look at the negatives and to simply dismiss any positives from the contests. However, Patrick Beverley should be commended for his defensive performance on Damian Lillard in Game 2.

On the surface, it may seem like Beverley has had a hard time defending Portland’s second-year floor general, as Lillard has averaged 24.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game in the two contests. However, as all fans should know by now, numbers don’t tell the whole story. This is a clear-cut case of statistics being inflated by usage, as Lillard’s numbers far outweigh his performance in the first two games.

In Game 1, Lillard turned heads with his poise, but until Beverley checked out of the game with his fifth foul around the four-minute mark, Lillard was relatively quiet. Once Beverley exited, which happened during the Hack-a-Howard comeback, Lillard found his groove while being guarded by Jeremy Lin. Lillard scored seven of the next nine Blazers’ points and assisted on the other basket. Once Beverley checked out, Lillard saw his opportunity and ran with it.

When Beverley returned, his tweaked knee slowed him down noticeably, although he still came up with a huge block on Lillard down the stretch.

In Game 2, Beverley essentially blanked Lillard, forcing him to go 3-for-14 from the floor. Beverley was a ball of energy all game, not allowing Lillard to get any breathing room and constantly forcing him into contested shots. Although Lillard did net 11 assists, it’s hard to pin those on Beverley, who drew the second-toughest defensive assignment and rose to the occasion accordingly.

Unfortunately for Beverley, he’s going to receive very little recognition for what he did to Lillard in Game 2 because Houston lost the game. If the Rockets would have won, ESPN would have had their “experts” gushing over Beverley’s old-school mentality and relentless nature, dubbing him the best defensive point guard in the NBA (which he is, partially because he can afford to focus all his energy on that end of the floor).

Moving forward in the series, Beverley will need to keep up his defensive supremacy over Lillard if the Rockets want to have any chance of coming back. Obviously, Houston mainly needs to focus on finding a way to stop LaMarcus Aldridge and finding a way to get James Harden back into his groove, but Beverley continuing his awe-inspiring defense on Lillard is just as important in the grand scheme of things.

Going into the series, I had faith in Beverley’s ability to slow down Lillard, which I thought would be a big reason why Houston would come out on top. So far, I was partially right and partially wrong. Yes, Beverley has done a superb job on the Weber State-product, but no, slowing down Lillard hasn’t been enough to pull out a win.

There are a lot of variables in an NBA series, and although Houston has done so many things poorly in the first two games, Beverley’s defense has been a positive for the boys in red. If Houston turns this thing around, Harden will probably receive a lot of the credit (if he’s the one who leads them to victory), but it will be The Pest of the West in the trenches.

Mike De Moor is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDeMoor, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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  • fungch1218

    This writer is idiot.
    Lillard’s Assist is 4-5 avg. per game.

    If Bev.’s on ball defense so good, he should not have that number.

    • Mike De Moor

      Assists aren’t always an indication that the player who passed the ball created the shot. It comes down to the eye test; did you see Lillard creating shots for everyone on the floor from his penetration? I didn’t…. And there’s no denying his on-ball defense is great. Play-making point guards put up numbers no matter what, but if their defender holds them to 3-14, he did his job. Do you actually disagree with that or do you believe that Lin is better than Bev in every facet of the game?

      • Bill Mcintyre

        What does this have to do with Lin? You’re a pathetic writer who responds to your only comment by bringing Lin into the conversation to try and belittle Lin and discredit his fan. Sickening. This has nothing to do with Lin, basketball fans are calling you out on twitter because of your incompetence. And your response to the criticism is even more disgusting. You resort to personal attacks such as….

        “Don’t go where cue ball? To your bald head? Or to your opinions?”

        Really? Already given you more attention than you deserve. Please, i urge you to stop further embarrassing yourself. It is a request, by me & RantSports readers, made out of sheer pity. I’m trying to help you out here, Mike.

        • Mike De Moor

          Dude, come on now. I don’t bring Lin into everything, it’s these other people that bring him into the conversation. And it’s not incompetence that you’re all complaining about, it’s my opinion. When people disagree, they attack the writer’s intellect and knowledge. Honestly, I wish I could just have normal, respectful conversations with everyone, but everyone (like yourself) wants to take it to the next level with insults…. And the cue ball comment was in response to him calling me mentally disabled, sir. Seriously, I’m just trying to help you understand, Bill.

  • swagcity hooptown

    Lin score 7 points in OT the first game, where’s PB? Oh he was in foul trouble.