I don't want to be a perpetual advocate for basketball violence but it might be time for Russell Westbrook to serve up a spicy, crispy two-piece to Patrick Beverley’s jawbone. Tuesday night, Westbrook and Beverly got into a skirmish after Beverley dove wildly for loose ball and clipped Westbrook’s knees with his flailing body. Luckily Westbrook was not hurt.
The Oklahoma City star was not so lucky during a similar incident during the 2013 playoffs. During a first-round matchup between the No. 2 seed Thunder and No. 7 seed Houston Rockets, Beverley took out Westbrook’s knees attempting to go for a steal. Westbrook suffered a torn meniscus and the Thunder’s hopes for a rematch with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals were instantly dashed.
Beverley has made his mark in the league as a gritty tenacious defender. He is known for getting under opposing players’ skin and often straddles the line between dogged and dirty. But diving at a player's knees is not cool. It's one thing to play hard. It's another to play reckless. Beverley's carelessness could have ended Westbrook’s season once again.
It’s unclear if the NBA will fine Beverley, but it should. Beverley's play could have put one of the league's biggest stars out of the game for no reason. In this age of routine 150 point games, the NBA needs guys who play with an edge like Beverley. However, playing without regard to other players’ safety is no bueno.
Pardon me if I wanted to see Westbrook catch Beverley with the Rajon Rondo-esque left hook or a State Farm Chris Paul-ish uppercut. He’s a repeated offender and often revels and relishes in his dirty plays. Although cooler heads prevailed Tuesday night and both players finished the game without incident, something tells me this won’t be the last dustup between the two. Mr. Triple Double is known for being petty. In this case, it would certainly be warranted. Beverley had better watch his back.
It is Halloween season and NBA teams should be frightened out of their minds. Why? The murderous monsters from Golden State are terrorizing the league. In a span of 5 days, the Warriors watched both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson eclipse the 50-point mark in less than three quarters.
Curry dropped 51 points on Oct. 24 versus the Washington Wizards. Thompson, who had been off to a relatively cold start to the season, went NBA 2Klay with 52 points, including a record-setting 14 three-pointers, in a game versus the Chicago Bulls. Oh yeah, Kevin Durant dropped a modest 41 points on the New York Knicks on Oct. 26.
The Warriors are 7-1 and injured four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t even sniffed the basketball court yet. Considering the fact that defense around the NBA is trash, it is very likely that the Warriors could average 160 points per game if the team desired to do so.
The idea sounds absurd right? Just remember though both Curry and Thompson sat on the bench the entire 4th quarter on their remarkable nights. The Warriors still racked up 144 and 149 points respectively in those games.
The NBA record for most points in a regular-season game (by a single team) is 186 points. That record occurred in a triple overtime game by the Detroit Pistons in 1983. I'm going to go out on a limb and say we'll see the Golden State Warriors break that record this season on a night when Curry, Durant and Thompson all get hot on the same night.
What's wrong with the Rockets?
To quote former NFL coach Dennis Green, the Warriors “are who we thought they were.” The Houston Rockets, however, seem to be some sort of imposter. What in the world is happening in Houston? The Western Conference runner-ups from a season ago are off to an abysmal 1- 6 to start for the 2018-19 campaign.
The Rockets are not losing a bunch of buzzer-beater battles either. James Harden’s club has lost by 19 points to the New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers and by 20 points to the lowly Los Angeles Clippers.
Last season, the Rockets finished seventh in defensive efficiency. Houston currently sits 25th in the same category. What's the difference?
The Rockets lost two key defenders during the offseason. Trevor Ariza signed with the Phoenix Suns. Luc Mbah a Moute joined the Los Angeles Clippers. Those defensive stalwarts were replaced with none other than Carmelo Anthony. Jeff Bzelik, the assistant coach who served as Mike D'Antoni's defensive guru, also retired.
So far, opposing teams have salivated at the opportunity to lure Anthony into a one-on-one with a speedy guard. I stated it in last week’s column and I’ll state it again: Not every team in the NBA is built to switch everything on defense.
D'Antoni has seemingly acknowledged that fact and has talked publicly about changing his defensive strategy. It’s possible though that Bzelik was the key to the Rockets defensive improvements over the past few seasons. Now that he's gone, the Rockets look like the typical D'Antoni defense that we have all come to know and ridicule.
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