HOUSTON --- Patrick Beverley's night started with hugs from security guards, speaking to the impact he made and connections he formed from playing five seasons with the Houston Rockets.
It ended with him showing emotion, running around the court and talking to the crowd that once cheered him after he sank the biggest of his four 3-pointers en route to his highest-scoring game and first double-double since signing with the Chicago Bulls.
Beverley finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the Bulls' 119-111 victory Saturday night, which nudged them into 10th place and the play-in picture in the Eastern Conference. Beverley hit 6-of-7 shots, including 4-5 from 3-point range and one trip around the Toyota Center floor as he gestured to the crowd.
"I was just excited to be here," Beverley said. "Family and friends here. Lot of Bulls fans here. Lot of memories here. Not disrespecting anybody. Just showing emotion."
That's what Beverley has provided consistently since coming to the Bulls. They're now 4-3 since Beverley arrived.
"Energy. Heart. Toughness. Vocal. He gets us going," Zach LaVine said. "You can see how much he cares about winning and his teammates. We definitely needed someone like that."
Coach Billy Donovan immediately moved Beverley into the starting lineup and also has regularly closed with that lineup of Beverley, Alex Caruso, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. Against the Rockets, that unit played extremely active defense down the stretch. The Bulls posted three steals and held the Rockets to 21.4 percent shooting in the fourth quarter.
Entering Saturday's game, the unit had logged 130 minutes together, which is a relatively small sample size. But it led the NBA in net rating and ranked third in defensive rating for all lineups that had logged 100 minutes or more. Even better is the fact that Beverley knew that---but added a caveat.
"No. 1 net rating. No. 3 defensive rating. Yeah, I’m locked in," Beverley said. "But we came out too slow. I think we can be a lot better. We don’t want to toot our own horn now. We got a lot of work to do."
Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.