In typical fashion for the Rockets, even when they get healthier, they don’t. Pat Beverley returned to the starting lineup against Portland on Monday night, but starting power forward Terrence Jones was out for the game with a thigh bruise suffered in practice on Sunday.
The Rockets were fairly shorthanded in the frontcourt with Greg Smith (knee), Omer Asik (knee) and Francisco Garcia (knee) also out of the game. But Beverley’s return, was enough to keep the Rockets offense humming from start to finish in their 126-113 win over the Blazers.
Beverley missed 14 games with a broken hand and the Rockets went 9-5 in those games. He’s now played in 27 games and the Rockets are 17-9 in those games. He scored 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting and made his first two 3-pointers, although he connected on just 1-of-6 after that. He helped the Rockets keep Portland from getting comfortable in their offense and opposing point guard Damon Lillard had just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in the first half as the Rockets built a sizable lead.
“I think his performance tonight was amazing,” said Dwight Howard, who scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds. “He did an excellent job on Lillard, he made him take tough shots every time down. He pressured him the whole game and that’s what we need. I’m happy he’s back. I’m happy he’s healthy.”
“Patrick just brings a little bit of swagger. He just kind of gets out there and says if you beat him, he says good for you, try it again,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “There’s no drama, he just plays hard and the guys like him. He has no agenda when he plays, besides to play hard. Sometimes when you have the simplest agenda, I’m going to play really hard, that’s when you play really well.”
At halftime, the Rockets were in a very familiar position to where they were against Oklahoma City on Thursday. On Thursday, the Rockets led the Thunder, 73-59 at the half. On Monday, Houston led Portland 71-56 at the half. James Harden was pretty clear about what he thought the difference was.
“Having Pat Bev(erley) back,” said Harden, who finished with 22 points. ”Him bringing the energy as a point guard, and everybody was following behind it, that’s the type of effort we need from each and every night in order to be successful.”
Beverley said it was good being back out there with his teammates. “It was fun, the crowd was good. We played a good team,” Beverley said. “We played well, we played really well and played together as a team. We shared the ball and everyone played well today. We didn’t want to give up another lead. They made their run, like teams are supposed to, but we withstood it. We stayed together through adversity, we came up with stops and made some shots at the end.”
Portland head coach Terry Stotts noted how the Rockets benefited greatly from Beverley’s return.
“He really has an impact on the game,” Stotts said. “He brings a lot of energy and I think his team feeds off his defense. I thought offensively he really did a good job pushing the ball, being aggressive going to the basket, he drew fouls. I think he really compliments what they like to do.”