In the biggest game of the NBA season so far, a former Razorback put the clamps on The King. Patrick Beverley capped a furious second-half comeback from the Los Angeles Clippers by stripping LeBron James’ three-point attempt under four seconds left, allowing the Clippers to escape 111-106.
The Christmas Day clash was the most anticipated game of the early season, pitting two powerhouse teams featuring four of the top 10 players in the world (the Lakers’ Lebron James and Anthony Davis vs. the Clippers’ Kahwi Leonard and Paul George).
While all four superstars stepped up, it was Beverley’s amazing tenacity as an X-factor that proved to be decisive. In an effort reminiscent of his Razorback days, when the 6-1 guard averaged 6.6 rebounds one season, Beverley pulled down nine rebounds in this game and earned praise from analyst Jeff Van Gundy as not only a very good guard rebounder, but a “great” one in the mold of Jason Kidd (now a Lakers assistant coach).
On the season, Beverley is averaging a career-high six boards per game.
In the pivotal play, Beverley guarded the 6-8 James outside of the arc. “Though an errant swipe at the ball by Beverley could land James at the foul line with a chance to tie the game, Beverley assumed the risk, ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz wrote. “As James took a single dribble to his right, stepped back and elevated for the shot, Beverley poked at the ball, sending it out of bounds. Initially ruled Lakers ball, officials overturned the call.”
Watch the strip-block at the :49 mark below:
“He won us the game on that possession,” Paul George said.
“LeBron, he’s one of the greatest players in the league,” Beverley said afterward. “I didn’t want to hit his elbow, kind of reached back and I was just fortunate to make a defensive play.”
“That’s the reason why I’m here, I got to get that fire. I got to get my guys going. I’ve gotta make sure we lock in from the beginning to the end. I take my role, my job very seriously.”
Indeed, playing with extreme fire against the world’s best players is something Beverley has done again and again over his career. He’s already done it against LeBron James, as you can see below:
And, as a Razorback, Beverley teamed up with the likes of Charles “The Manimal” Thomas, Sonny Weems and Darian Townes to try to take down a young Kevin Durant in Texas:
While the NBA season is still early, this is a signature win for the Los Angeles Clippers on a few fronts.
Big picture, it firmly establishes as the Clippers (23-10) as Western Conference favorites. The Lakers currently lead the West, but they have lost four in a row. They will improve as their young star Kyle Kuzma returns from injury, but there’s no getting around the fact LeBron and company have lost the only two 2019-2020 games with their cross-town rivals so far.
That makes the Clippers the (temporary) kings of L.A., which Patrick Beverley celebrated in high style after the big win.
For more on Beverley’s amazing play against superstars, check out what he did last spring: