Patrick Beverley’s influence on the Bulls is undeniable

Why Beverley’s lead with the Bulls is undeniable originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Patrick Beverley made two significant hustle plays early in the Chicago Bulls’ 113-99 win over the Miami Heat on Saturday night, which combined with losses from the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards gave the Bulls a 1 1/2 game lead in the 10th seed same possession.

First, Beverly spread at full power to keep a loose ball from going wide. He then drew a foul from Tyler Herro after going high for an offensive rebound.

The United Center roared its approval.

“It’s electric, especially at home. It gets the crowd going,” DeMar DeRozan said of the sequence. “That’s what you have to feed off of when you see a guy sacrificing himself for big plays and rescuing possession. It will be taken from there.”

But lest you think Beverley is just a hustle guy and a defensively minded player, what does a season-high five 3-pointers sound like?

As the Heat consistently sent traps to DeRozan and Zach LaVIne, Beverley scored 17 points. That included a streak of 11 straight points in the second quarter, during which Beverley goaded the crowd, who again roared their approval.

“Just having fun, losing yourself in basketball. Just like you do when you get up in the night and write a story. You have your little headphones on. You capture the mood and lose yourself in your craft,” Beverley said humorously, referring to reporters. “I’m lucky enough to play with DeMar and Zach. Nobody can guard her, so you have to take something, and I’m guessing it’s PatBev. I like it like this.”

Beverly exudes confidence and leadership. And his influence has been undeniable since the hometown product joined the Bulls, who are 7-4 since his arrival.

“Should be 9-2,” Beverley said. “I think the team that really beat us is Phoenix – and Toronto. We have to get better.”

Earlier, when asked if the Heat had cut the Bulls’ 27-point lead to 3 points just past mid-fourth quarter, Beverley again showed his leadership skills.

“Any adversity is good,” he said. “That will help us in the playoffs.”

Note the verb tense of Beverly.

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 its impact extends far beyond boxing results and into the locker room.

“I just love his presence, his competitiveness,” said coach Billy Donovan. “The way he comes into a back-to-back game and tells the guys, ‘We have to be ready to play.’ I love his message and style and the way he is every day. He has a great motor, great enthusiasm, loves the game and loves to compete. I love being around him.

“He’s a really genuine guy, a direct guy. I just love his passion. It helped our team. I don’t know if it changed our team.”

DeRozan said so.

“A different kind of leadership,” DeRozan said. “Constant voice. He’s played with some great players. Check out the list. He has played with Hall of Famers who know how to play the game. He is who he is for a reason. He’s earned a reputation for being tough and loud.”

Beverly downplayed his influence.

“Nothing has changed. I have a coach right now who believes in me and understands what I bring to the game,” he said. “I’m lucky to play under a coach like Billy. When you have a coach like that , who believes in you, you don’t want to let them down. I’m having fun out there.”

It shows.

The Bulls hit their season-high with 34 assists and shot 56.2 percent, with 50 percent on 34 3-point attempts. Considering they got the better of Minnesota in Friday’s double overtime, with players posting strong 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 as the heat ran its inevitable course. The Bulls put six players in double figures, with DeRozan hitting his season-high 10 assists. Coby White and Patrick Williams made big shots in the fourth quarter.

It was a team win on a night that saw the Bulls lose Alex Caruso to another injury, a further aggravation of a sprain in the middle of his left foot.

“It was a professional win,” Beverley said. “We concluded this was a must after a double OT game. We didn’t want to come out in the mud. We wanted to throw the first shot. We made. They reacted just like any good team would react. Our first punch was really hard, so we were able to withstand their punches.”

However, Beverley couldn’t withstand one punch – an accidental poke in the eye from teammate Nikola Vucevic. That forced Donovan to close with Williams about Beverly.

“I think Vooch was trying to pay me back for Detroit,” Beverley said, humorously referencing the time Vucevic insulted Beverley and pointing out a bloated defensive cover between the two players. “I guess we’re even.”

The Bulls haven’t even been since Beverly joined them. They were a winning team.

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