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Clippings: Patrick Beverley’s presence was instantly felt in his return

Just ask Damian Lillard.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers debuted last year’s starting lineup for the very first time this season in game 52. It’s unclear if Ivica Zubac will hold onto his spot at center when Serge Ibaka returns, but one thing is not in question: despite all of the perimeter depth the Clippers possess, Patrick Beverley is and will remain the starting point guard. It took all of four minutes to remember what Beverley does so well and why he needs to be on the court for LA to start games.

Beverley started the game by hounding Damian Lillard from the inbounds pass — he doesn’t have the nickname “Mr. 94 Feet” for nothing. Beverley hit a spot-up three from the wing for the first triple of the game. He followed that up two possessions later by deflecting the ball from Lillard, chasing it down the length of the court, and then splashing a corner three in Lillard’s face.

It was that kind of night for the Clippers, who scored at will for a majority of the game, and that kind of night for Lillard, who finished with a shocking total of 11 points on 2-of-14 shooting. LA’s flow on offense and defense could easily be traced back to Beverley’s effort.

“I thought he was really good. Defensively, to set the tone early on in the game, and then the two threes he made to start the game kind of gave us an offensive lift to start as well,” Ty Lue said postgame. “Just his defense, just his energy, the way he plays and competes every night, we definitely missed that.”

“Pat, being his first game back, the energy he brought was tremendous for us,” Reggie Jackson said. “He did a great job, once again, second time competing against him this season, really setting the tone early, keeping the ball out of his hands early, trying to make everything tough on him... But I think we did a great job on Dame tonight, and it started with Pat Bev.”

Portland Trail Blazers v LA Clippers
Patrick Beverley was attached to Portland’s guards all game.
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Beverley’s stat line doesn’t jump off the page. He made 2-of-7 shots for eight points and added three assists and one steal, numbers he would normally eclipse in 20 minutes of playing time. However, every player pointed to the example the point guard set at the start of the game, that mindset that Lue has been preaching ad nauseam over the past few weeks.

During the second quarter of the broadcast of last night’s game, Mike Fratello asked president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank about the return of Beverley, and Frank was similarly laudatory of what it is that Beverley provides:

“He’s critical, I mean he’s a two-way player for us, he’s kinda the heartbeat of our team and the emotional leader. And for Pat to be out 25 days and to come back and have to guard one of the premier players in Lillard, just the energy he brings and the fact that he shoots the three so well — and many times that gets lost of how elite of a spot-up shooter Pat is — but Pat means a great deal to our team, and we’re really looking forward to having pat on the court the rest of the way.”

Lue has a good problem ahead of him of how to find minutes for Reggie Jackson, Rajon Rondo, Terance Mann, and Luke Kennard going forward, but those minutes simply can’t come at the expense of Beverley. He’s the longest-tenured Clipper, and his presence brings tangible and intangible value to the team. He proved that once again Tuesday.

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