Beasley, Lakers Celebrate Forward's Birthday Outburst
EL SEGUNDO – The Lakers truly missed Michael Beasley.
Lost in the shuffle among Rajon Rondo’s surgeries, LeBron James’ groin strain, and Brandon Ingram’s suspension, the team face a good chunk of the season's first half without one of their significant summer acquisitions.
And we’re not just talking about his scoring punch. Head Coach Luke Walton pointed out repeatedly throughout the season how much his teammates love and respect him, and how quickly the veteran forward became ingrained in the fabric of the roster.
The feeling seems to be mutual, with Beasley joining the Lakers bench for the second half of the Wizards game in D.C. on December 16th. That night, the Kansas State product brought his ailing mother to watch his team play in person. She passed away a week later.
Beasley rejoined the team on January 4th, playing 12 minutes that same night against the Knicks.
“We were missing him,” JaVale McGee said. “We needed him. We’re down bodies and we always knew what Mike could do. Playing time was low for him originally, but he stayed ready…he was gone for at least a month and came back and played right away, and he actually played really well and seemed to be in pretty good shape. That’s a testament to how professional he is.”
In the last three games, he averaged 14.3 points in a little over 16 minutes – including 19 in 19 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Pistons.
“I call Michael Beasley a walking bucket,” McGee added. “All he needs is some dishwater and a mop. The way he went out there on his birthday and did his thing was amazing.”
Beasley did all of that (swing-swing three-pointers, scoring in isolation against his good friend Andre Drummond, etc) on his 30th birthday. His teammates, generously, gifted him the W.
Of course, scoring 19 points wasn’t surprising for a guy who averaged 26.2 points in his lone collegiate season, and who once dropped 63 in the 2015 Chinese Basketball Association All-Star Game. Beasley’s NBA career-high is 42 points (at Sacramento in 2010).
“I just play hard,” he said. “Move the ball. I was the guy to score, well I was the second guy to score tonight. (Kyle Kuzma) had a pretty good night. We just played and had fun. It started on the defensive side and everything else just fell in place.”
Beasley also dished out four assists, showing excellent chemistry with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ivica Zubac.
“Almost every practice we’re in the same unit, so he always tells me, ‘if you’re on the floor, I’m going to get you easy baskets and you’ll give me assists,’” Zubac said. “That’s what happens every time we’re on the floor together. We know how to play together. I play off of him, he’s a smart player, he’s talented, he can score a bunch of points, and when they take that away from him, that’s an easy shot for me.”
It’s hardly a coincidence that the team has experienced a resurgence as Beasley’s presence and role became steadier over the last week. The team needs him, and he’s feeling right at home.
“It means everything,” Beasley said after the Pistons game. “I love these guys. They make life a lot easier.”
Michael Beasley talks about scoring a season-high on his birthday, and his teammates supporting him through his tough times off the court. pic.twitter.com/RlrRjjqQh0— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 10, 2019