PHOENIX — With the Phoenix Suns’ lead skyrocketing to begin the second half, Los Angeles Lakers guard Patrick Beverley lay down Monday as he was fouled by Chris Paul in the early third quarter. After the whistle, Beverley put his right hand a few inches off the ground, showing that Paul was too small to protect him.
The celebration may have been done wrong. The -1 opportunity for Beverley cut the Suns’ win from 26 to 23 in the ensuing free throw. Phoenix won 130-104.
“You can’t pay attention to that sort of thing,” Paul said after the game, when asked about Beverley’s attempt to show off. “This isn’t new. He didn’t find it. But just play basketball, man.”
Beverley’s response has become a popular congratulatory gesture used in the league when a player scores from the post against a smaller defender.
However, there wasn’t much of a size difference in that pairing. Beverley is listed as 1.80 tall and 180 pounds. Paul is listed as 6 feet, 175 pounds.
The much sharper contrast was between the production of the two guards. Paul finished the game with 28 points, eight assists, two steals and zero turnovers as the Suns trailed the Lakers by 18 points in 32 minutes. Beverley had 9 points, 3 assists and 3 turnovers as LA trailed by 17 points in 23 minutes of play.
The Lakers were losing easily during Beverley’s bragging – and not to mention sitting 5½ games behind Phoenix in the Western Conference standings – their coach Darvin Ham had no trouble with the quarterback’s tactic.
“Pat is Pat. He wears his emotions up his sleeve,” Ham said. “I think everybody’s a little too nervous about the guys celebrating. … Obviously, there are sportsmanship issues and you have to be respectful of your opponent. I get that. And I think we mostly are. But I don’t want to see the League come to a place where the players can’t have natural enthusiasm.
“The passion and emotion and nonsense that this game contains, as long as no one is disrespecting another person’s family, spouse or kids or anything like that, I think this is bait. Fun bait, man.”
“You can’t pay attention to those things. It’s not new. He didn’t find it.”
Saying he’s looking for a team game against Phoenix where Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves were pulled over due to injury, Ham acknowledged Beverley’s energy as long as he didn’t cross the line.
“Pat is a seasoned vet and wants to have fun in the game,” Ham continued. “I mean, damn me if I say these guys can’t have fun or they can’t do this or that. I know time and score are important; you never want to have fun.” embarrass yourself but if men want to enjoy the game why not?”
In her two trips to Phoenix this season, Beverley’s extracurricular activities have become a post-game conversation topic for the second time. Last month, Beverly knocked Suns center Deandre Ayton down after he stood over Ayton Reaves after a foul by Phoenix’s Devin Booker. Beverley was later suspended from three games due to pushing.