It’s not often that Clippers guard Patrick Beverley is quiet for long stretches.
It was why his silence last Friday, during the opening minutes of his first-round matchup in an ESPN-broadcast video-game tournament featuring NBA players, led to some alarm within his team.
“Guys are texting like, ‘What’s wrong with Pat? Is Pat sick?’” Lawrence Frank, the team’s president of basketball operations, said Wednesday. “‘Is Pat under the weather? Does the volume not work on Pat’s control?’”
Beverley was soon himself again, trash-talking his way to a blowout victory that made the “NBA2K” tournament’s 14th-seeded player the favorite to win it all.
He likely could remain the favorite after his quarterfinal Thursday that featured a new round, a new opponent but the same scene, from start to finish.
At first quieted by his 11-point deficit in the first quarter, Beverley was roaring by the end of his seven-point victory against sixth-seeded Andre Drummond of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“This man cold at defense in real life and in the video game,” Drummond said during the fourth quarter, after a stop preserved Beverley’s narrow lead.
After closing out the win, using Philadelphia against Drummond’s Milwaukee Bucks, Beverley ripped off his headset, paced his house in tan slippers and tugged on the chest of his Arkansas sweatshirt — all while shouting in celebration, naturally.
“Stop playing with me!” he said. Then, to Drummond after returning to his chair: “You had me nervous!”
The victory ensured that two real-life teams will dominate the virtual tournament’s final four. Beverley will face Phoenix’s DeAndre Ayton in Saturday’s semifinal, while Clippers teammate Montrezl Harrell goes against Suns guard Devin Booker. The championship will be aired on ESPN’s networks the same night, with the winner earning a donation of $100,000 to the charity of his choice in support of coronavirus relief efforts.
Ayton advanced out of Thursday’s quarterfinals after using the Clippers to beat second-seeded Trae Young of Atlanta; Booker beat Washington’s Rui Hachimura; and Harrell edged Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr.
Tournament rules allow players to choose their teams from a pre-selected pool, and because Harrell used the Clippers in the first round, he could no longer play with the team he knows best.
Instead he selected Portland to beat the Jones Jr.-led Dallas Mavericks, using offense from Carmelo Anthony early and Damian Lillard late to lead comfortably until the end.
“Man, we made this much harder than it had to be, fellas,” Harrell said.
Drummond played interviewer at times Thursday.
He asked Beverley where he would visit first when shelter-in-place restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus eventually lift. “L.A.!” Beverley said.
And how has Beverley been spending his time amid the NBA’s hiatus, which will hit one month Friday?
“Working out like a mad man,” Beverley quipped.
Replied Drummond: “I already know you don’t got no off-switch.”
Or mute button.