On very few nights you will see a guy who scores 37 points not even be a footnote in the game he played in, but Sunday night that was James Harden.
Ok, ok, ok… Harden was more than a footnote in the Houston Rockets 118-87 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, but we are all used to him running the offense like a conductor leading a symphony. So Harden finishing with 37 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds is pretty much old hat.
What not many people saw coming was Patrick Beverley outplaying the “potential MVP” in Russell Westbrook, but it happened.
It might not happen again during this series, but Sunday night was all about Beverley.
The Rockets spark plug, did just that as he came out with a ton of energy. Beverley caused Westbrook to turn the ball over a few times, including a clean pickpocket on one possession which he would finish with a dunk on the other end.
Dunking is not something Beverley does often. In his career (291) games, he’s only had seven dunks, so Sunday night was something special.
“This was one of, if not the best game I’ve ever seen Pat (Patrick Beverley) play,” Ryan Anderson said.
Beverley’s impact was not just felt on the defensive end guarding Westbrook, which he helped limit him to 26% shooting from the floor, but he was also the Rockets second leading scoring pouring in 21 points.
With Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams combining to score 23 points, Beverley’s contributions would end up being big.
Beverley hit his three’s, finishing four of six from deep, but he also wasn’t afraid of going into the land of the giants – not that he ever is afraid – as he also finished with 10 rebounds.
“He brings it every game, whether or not his shot is falling or not, he brings that intensity,” James Harden said of Beverley’s play. “Tonight, he made shots, he rebounded the ball at a high level, I mean, he’s just Pat.”
Sunday night Harden was great, as always, and while the league’s two MVP candidates were on full display for the world to see, the man who stood out the most, was Beverley, the smallest guy on the court.
In game one, Beverley; defended Westbrook, ran into a brick wall named Steven Adams, put up points, rebound the ball and while he might not get as much national attention as Westbrook or Harden, there is an argument that Sunday, he was the best player on the floor.