LOS ANGELES – Before the Timberwolves took the floor Monday, Patrick Beverley had a message for them.
"I told everyone I wanted this one real bad," said Beverley, a former Clipper.
The Wolves played like they wanted to get it for him in coasting to a 122-104 victory against a undermanned Clippers squad that was without several players, including Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Isaiah Hartenstein and Luke Kennard.
For once as the Wolves traverse this time of COVID-19 induced absences, they met a team who had more key players absent than they had. The Wolves left little doubt about the talent gap as they broke open the game with a 38-25 second quarter run and never let the Clippers back within 12.
Beverley savored the win, especially late. He had fun with the Clippers crowd, who gave him a warm ovation during introductions, and high-fived owner Steve Ballmer. But underneath, the fiery competitor inside wanted to beat his former team, who had defeated the Wolves in three previous meetings this season.
Even if the win came against a roster that COVID protocols and injuries have decimated, Beverley got the last word for the season.
He said he wanted to lock up Eric Bledsoe and Reggie Jackson, who had lit the Wolves up multiple times this season. Beverley casually tossed out "had five points" when looking at Jackson's stat line. Beverley himself finished with 11 points and 12 assists.
That latter statistic was important to him, and it wasn't an accident. He said the Clippers told him they wanted someone who was more of a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and that's one reason why they traded him to Minnesota. Those 12 assists were his statement that they misjudged him.
"I have a coach [Chris Finch] that trusts me, a coach that trusts me with the ball," Beverley said. "Obviously, he's been knowing me for a long time, since I've been with the Rockets. He knows my abilities, my cans … He just trusts me with the ball and I've been trying to make the right decision.
"For some reason, I don't know, a lot of coaches didn't trust me with the ball before, maybe due to the fact that I played with so many superstars."
Anthony Edwards bounced back after struggling against the Lakers on Sunday with 28 points on 11 of 17 shooting while the Wolves got key bench contributions from Jaden McDaniels (18 points) and Taurean Prince, who played perhaps his best game in a Wolves uniform with 17.
"The thing about Pat is he brings that same energy on a day off, on a shootaround, treatment room in the locker room and I think that rubs off on guys in a huge positive way," Prince said. "I know it has for myself."
This win was for Beverley, who helped the Wolves stem a late Clippers comeback bid. Beverley re-entered the game after the Clippers cut a 24-point Wolves lead to 93-80 with 8 minutes, 47 seconds to play.
After an Edwards three, Beverley got a steal and found Prince for a layup to put the Wolves up 18 and the game was effectively over.
This was a statement from Beverley, like the ex who wants to show their former partner what they're missing.
He said he feels the toughness and attitude he brings to a team often goes unnoticed, until he's gone. That's not the case in Minnesota, where he can be more himself than he has been.
"It's always when I go to the other team, that's when you see my work with how the team is now," Beverley said. "It is what it is. What I do is very underappreciated, but the Timberwolves appreciate it, and that's all that matters."