In a time of need, the Clippers called on tenacious Patrick Beverley to be a starter and to provide his infectious attitude Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.
Beverley resoundingly did so.
He refused to give in to the enormous challenge of the shorthanded Clippers seeking to break a five-game losing streak.
Instead, Beverley challenged his teammates to stand tall, even while competing without Danilo Gallinari (back spasms) and Lou Williams (sore right hamstring), and to not back down.
They did, and didn’t. And won.
“He’s a beast defensively,” Tobias Harris said Sunday night inside a happy Clippers locker room. “Coming in shorthanded into the starting lineup and just playing great minutes, he helped us win out there. He’s the guy who gets everybody checked in line.
“When they made a little run, he’s in the huddle telling us to, ‘Calm down, we got it.’ He just gave everybody that confidence that we knew we were going to win.”
It was only his 17th start of the season, but it was one of Beverley’s best all-around games. He played a season-high 42 minutes and collected a season-high 12 rebounds. He matched his season high with four steals, scored 18 points and added five assists and one block.
Rivers said the reason to start Beverley against the Spurs was simple: “Energy. Toughness. This was a grind game and we knew it. Go to Pat.”
Beverley’s hounding defense, putting pressure on the ball, gave the Spurs fits.
“Ain’t no difference for us when I start,” Beverley said. “Whether I start or come off the bench, I’m here to provide energy.”
Though it was only his seventh game of the season with the Clippers, Johnathan Motley had an impressive performance.
He has spent most of the season playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, the Clippers’ NBA development league team.
But the Clippers are short on bodies and the 6-foot-10 Motley was called into duty against the Spurs.
As the backup center, Motley had 10 points and four rebounds in 18 minutes.
“He played great,” Rivers said. “He’s such a fast roller [to the basket] and it’s hard to prepare for that. I thought our guys trusted him. The first couple of rolls they got him the ball. He’ll get better. You can see at times he doesn’t know some of the stuff we’re doing, but he’s just going to get better and better.”
Motley’s teammates have kept their eyes on him and have been impressed by his development.
And, yes, they have learned to trust the 23-year-old Motley.
“You watched him this summer. You watched him in the G-League,” Beverley said. “Me and Mike [Scott], we always watch the performances he’s putting up in the G-League. We’re just happy to see him out here playing really, really well.”
Williams was listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. Gallinari will sit out.
CLIPPERS AT DALLAS MAVERICKS
When: Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. PST.
On Air: TV — Prime Ticket; Radio — 570, 1330.
Update: Luka Doncic, the Mavericks’ sensational rookie, leads the team in scoring (20.0) and is second in rebounds (6.7) and assists (5.1). Former Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is second in the NBA in rebounding (13.9). Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr., who sat out Dallas’ last five games because of back soreness and illness, is expected to rejoin the team.