Jae Crowder gets tips on guarding James Harden from an unlikely source
www.deseretnews.com By Jody Genessy @DJJazzyJody
SALT LAKE CITY — Following the Utah Jazz’s entertaining overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the regular season finale, Jae Crowder received some friendly advice on how to defend reigning MVP James Harden.
Considering Harden has had a statistical season only rivaled by Wilt Chamberlain — minus the 100-point game, of course — the Jazz forward is happy to get any tips and pointers he can.
This help didn’t come from the usual sources — his coaches, teammates, fans on social media.
Nope. It was from an unlikely source — an opponent. Patrick Beverley.
As players from the Clippers and Jazz exchanged pleasantries, wished each other well in the postseason and asked for ice-cream parlor recommendations — or whatever players talk about after games — Beverley was caught on camera making Harden-like motions with his arms while talking to Crowder.
Crowder asked a question and nodded as he listened to Beverley during this brief on-court clinic at the Staples Center.
On Saturday, Crowder confirmed what many people who saw the video clip guessed — Beverley was trying to help him and the Jazz defeat Harden.
“He was just giving insight of how he thinks we as a team and me personally and guys who guard Harden and Eric Gordon and all those guys, how to approach the game,” Crowder told reporters Saturday at Zions Bank Basketball Campus. “Just giving tips and his opinion on how he feels we should approach the series.”
Beverley knows Harden as well as anyone could. They were teammates from 2013-17 in Houston, so they’ve gone head-to-head many times in practice.
So, why would someone on a different team give a Jazz player advice?
Mutual respect, for one thing.
“Pat and me, we became friends on the court just by being competitors,” Crowder said. “Obviously, we respect one and another on the court. We’re just full-fledged competitors. He just came up to me and gave me insight.”
Maybe there’s a revenge element?
Or, hmmm, maybe Beverley and the Clippers would rather face Utah than Houston after getting by Golden State in the first round. (Insert winking emoji here.)
Whatever the reason, Crowder, Joe Ingles, Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale will have their hands full against the MVP.
Harden’s scoring average of 36.1 points was the highest in the NBA since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 in 1986-87. The Beard scored 8.1 points more per game than the league’s second-highest scorer, Paul George (28.0). That marked the biggest disparity between No. 1 and No. 2 since Chamberlain averaged 50.4, 18.8 more than second-leading scorer, Walt Bellamy, in the 1962-63 season.
“I don’t know why he did it,” Crowder added. “But it’s appreciated, obviously.”