PHOENIX – With the Phoenix Suns lead already growing to start the second half, Los Angeles Lakers guard Patrick Beverley fouled Chris Paul early in the third quarter Monday. After the whistle, Beverly placed her right hand inches from the floor, assuming Paul was too small to support her.
The celebration could have been inappropriate. Beverley’s and-1 on his next free throw cut the Suns’ lead from 26 to 23. Phoenix won 130-104.
“You can’t pay attention to those things,” Paul said after the game when asked about Beverley trying to show him. “It’s not news. He didn’t think it through. But just play basketball, man.”
Beverley’s reaction has become a popular celebratory gesture used around the league when a player scores in the post against a smaller defender.
Except there wasn’t much difference in size with that particular matchup. Beverley is listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. Paul is listed at 6 feet, 175 pounds.
The starker contrast was between the production of the two guards. Paul finished with 28 points, eight assists, two steals and zero turnovers as the Suns outscored the Lakers by 18 in 32 minutes. Beverley had nine points, three assists and three turnovers as LA was outscored by 17 in 23 minutes.
Even though the Lakers were losing easily in Beverly’s bragging moment, and not to mention sitting 5.5 games behind Phoenix in the Western Conference standings, their coach Darwin Hamm had no problem with his point guard’s tactics.
“Pat is Pat. He wears his emotions on his sleeve,” Hamm said. “I think everyone’s a bit too hard on the boys. … Obviously there are athletic issues and you have to respect your opponent. I understand that. And I think for the most part we are. But I don’t want to see the league get to a place where players can’t have natural enthusiasm.
“The passion and emotion that goes into this game and the trash talking, as long as nobody respects somebody else’s family, spouse, kids or anything like that, I think it’s fodder. It’s fun fodder, man.”
“You can’t pay attention to that stuff. It’s not news. He didn’t make it up.”
Hamm, who said he was looking for a team effort against Phoenix with Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves all out injured, embraced Beverley’s energy as long as it didn’t cross the line.
“Pat is an experienced vet and he wants to have fun during the game,” Ham continued. “So I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the one to say these guys can’t have fun or they can’t do this or they can’t do that. I know time and it’s important to appreciate. You’ll never want to do that. shame on yourself But if guys want to enjoy the game, why not.”
It’s the second time in two trips to Phoenix this season that Beverley’s extracurricular activities have been the subject of postgame conversation. Last month, Beverley shoved Suns center Deandre Ayton to the floor after Ayton stood over Reaves following a foul by Phoenix’s Devin Booker. Beverley was later suspended for three games for the push.