Why Beverley’s Bulls Leadership Is Undeniable Originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Early in the Chicago Bulls’ 113-99 victory over the Miami Heat on Saturday night, which, along with defeats by the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards, pushed the Bulls 1 ½ games ahead at the 10th seed, Patrick Beverley made two significant stirring plays in the same possession.
First, Beverley sprawled out wide to prevent a loose ball from going out of bounds. Then he was fouled by Tyler Herro after going up high for an offensive rebound.
The United Center roared its approval.
“It’s electrifying, especially at home. It gets the crowd excited,” DeMar DeRozan said of the sequel. “You have to feed off of that when you see a guy sacrificing himself for big plays and to save possession. It continues from there.
But lest anyone think that Beverley is just a hustler and a defensive player, what does a season-best three-pointer sound like?
With the Heat sending out consistent traps in DeRozan and Zach LaVine, Beverley scored 17 points. This included an 11-point stretch in the second quarter in which Beverley spurred on the crowd, who, again, roared their approval.
“Just having fun, losing myself in basketball. Just like you do when you’re up at night, writing a story. You put on your little headphones. You take the vibe and you get lost in your craft,” Beverley said humorously, referring to reporters. “I’m lucky enough to play with DeMar and Zach. Nobody can protect them so you have to take something away and I think it’s PatBev. I like it that way.”
Beverley exudes confidence and leadership. And his impact is undeniable since the hometown product joined the Bulls, who are 7-4 since his arrival.
“Must be 9-2,” Beverley said. “I think the team that really beat us was Phoenix — and Toronto. We have to be better.”
Earlier, when asked about the Heat cutting the Bulls’ 27-point lead to 3 midway through the fourth quarter, Beverley showed his leadership skills again.
“Any adversity is good,” he said. “It will help us through the playoffs.”
Note Beverley’s tense.
Beverley is averaging 6.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4 assists while shooting 35.9 percent from 3-point range since joining the Bulls. But his impact goes far beyond box scores and in the locker room.
“I love his presence, his competitiveness,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “The way he goes into a back-to-back match saying to the guys, ‘We’ve got to be ready to play.’ I love his message and disposition and the way he is every day. He has a great engine, great enthusiasm, loves the game and loves to compete. I love being around him.
“He’s a really genuine guy, a straight guy. I just love his passion. He has helped our team. I don’t know if our team has changed.”
DeRozan said yes.
“A different kind of leadership,” DeRozan said. “Consistent voice. He played with some great players. See the list. He’s played with Hall of Famers who know how to play. He is who he is for a reason. He gained a reputation for being tough and vocal.”
Beverley downplayed its impact.
“Nothing has changed. I just got a coach who believes in me and understands what I bring to the game,” he said. “I’m lucky to play with a coach like Billy. When you have a coach like that who believes in you, you doesn’t want to let you down I’m having fun out there.
The Bulls tied a season high with 34 assists and were shooting 56.2 percent, including 50 percent on 34 3-point attempts. Given that they prevailed in double overtime on Friday against Minnesota with players recording heavy minutes, the way the Bulls started with 33 points in the first quarter and a double-digit lead was remarkable.
Even more remarkable was not blinking in the face of adversity when the Heat made their inevitable run. The Bulls fielded six players in double figures, with DeRozan tying his season-high 10 assists. Coby White and Patrick Williams hit big shots in the fourth quarter.
It was a team win on a night when the Bulls lost Alex Caruso to another injury, an aggravation of his left midfoot sprain.
“This was a professional win,” said Beverley. “We came to the understanding that this was a must win after an OT double game. We didn’t want to go out in the mud. We wanted to throw the first punch. We did. They responded, as any good team would. Our first punch was really hard, so we were able to take their punches.”
However, Beverley couldn’t resist one blow – an inadvertent poke in the eye by teammate Nikola Vucevic. This forced Donovan to close with Williams over Beverley.
“I think Vooch tried to pay me off for Detroit,” Beverley said, humorously referring to the time Vucevic took offense at Beverley pointing out blown defensive coverage between the two players. “I think we’re even now.”
The Bulls couldn’t care less since Beverley joined them. They have been a winning team.
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