The game hung in the balance and it was going to come down to which player was going to impose his will on the other, superstar LeBron James with possession of the ball or tenacious Patrick Beverley on defense as the seconds ticked down in a thrilling game between the Lakers and Clippers on Christmas Day at Staples Center.
As James began to gather for a three-point shot with his Lakers trailing by three points, Beverley stood his ground on defense and swiped the ball away with 3.6 seconds left.
The referees signaled Lakers ball. After the Clippers began circling their fingers for a replay, the officials reviewed the video and awarded the ball to the Clippers because Beverley had actually tipped the ball off James.
“I kind of knew he was going to go for the three. I just didn’t know how,” Beverley said. “LeBron, he’s one of the greatest players in the league, one of the greatest players to do it. I tried to kind of put my hand in there and I was fortunate.”
Beverley raised one finger in the air after seeing the replay going in favor of the Clippers, taunting the Lakers fans who booed him along the way.
It was officially ruled a block for Beverley and, eventually, a 111-106 victory for the Clippers.
“We were going to foul, but he [James] was facing us so we told him [Beverley] not to foul,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It was a great play by Pat.”
Beverley came up big more than once in the decisive fourth quarter, out-leaping and out-hustling Danny Green and Dwight Howard for an offensive rebound.
Once he corralled the ball, Beverley passed it Paul George for a basket that cut the Clippers’ deficit to three points.
“I thought the biggest play of the game was his offensive rebound, honestly,” Rivers said. “He got it in traffic. I think Paul George makes the shot after that. I thought that was one of the turning points of the game.”
Beverley had nine rebounds, the second most on the Clippers. He had five rebounds in the fourth quarter.
Entering the game, Beverley was averaging a career-high 6.0 rebounds, which ranked him 10th among guards in the NBA.
When asked what has made him such a fierce rebounder, Beverley responded as only he can.
“My …. heart,” Beverley said while swearing.
Caldwell-Pope accepts role
The hope for the Lakers is that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can continue to flourish now that he has become a reserve after starting 19 games when Avery Bradley was sidelined by a bruised right lower leg.
Caldwell-Pope had 13 points off the bench for the Lakers during the loss to the Clippers.
His defense was solid, especially when he hustled back on defense and blocked a fastbreak layup by Landry Shamet late in the first quarter.
Caldwell-Pope had to leave to get his left ankle re-taped, but he returned to the game, finishing with a plus-13 in the plus-minus category.
“Nah, I wasn’t disappointed. I was just saying it’s next-man mentality, next man up,” Caldwell-Pope said of giving up the starting slot. “My job was when Avery went down with the injury was to go pick him up. Pick up the slack that Avery brung for us to start the season and I did my job. No hard feelings. Avery’s my brother. I learn a lot from him on the defensive end.”