Michael Beasley teases Suns with brilliant performance in preseason finale victory over Denver


PHOENIX — Michael Beasley still looks at him like he’s crazy when he says it, but tonight provided ample evidence as to why Alvin Gentry wants Beasley to take about 18-20 shots for every 30 minutes of playing time.

Granted the last thing the Suns’ head coach wants is for Beasley to become a chucker, he just doesn’t want him to pass up any quality opportunities to score the basketball.

Even in Friday night’s preseason finale in which Beasley exploded for 29 points on 13-for-21 shooting in 33:36 of the Suns’ 88-72 victory, Gentry felt he left shots on the table.

“We’re going through that phase right now with Michael Beasley because he’s been on a team with Dwyane Wade,” Gentry said. “He hasn’t had the opportunity to shoot the basketball. I don’t think that he’s quite to the point where, ‘This is a shot, I’ll just shoot.’ I think he’ll get there. It’s just an adjustment that guys have to make. It’s probably a little bit different than anybody really expected.

“When you’re going well you’ve got to play a little bit selfish, and that’s the way most of the great players in this league are. We’ve got to get him in that mentality.”

On a night the rest of the team shot an ugly 34.8 percent, Beasley carried the offense by displaying a complete offensive game. He stroked three long balls in as many attempts, had his mid-range game working to full effect and went strong to the bucket as well. He confidently brought the ball upcourt after a few of his 10 rebounds, and he made it all look so easy.

To Beasley, the key to his performance all came down to being aggressive.

“I was just being aggressive,” he said. “Coach has been telling me all preseason just to be aggressive and be kind of selfish in taking my shots, and that’s what I was doing today. I was going out there with a mindset of a playmaker, but I was also taking what the defense was giving me.”

Added Goran Dragic, “[He was] aggressive, attacking the rim. He was amazing on offense. When he’s hot, we’re going to get a lot from him every game, and today he did a great job, he was attacking the rim, be aggressive, and we need that from him.”

The rap on Beasley has always been that he often forces bad shots. The Suns surely don’t want that, they just want it to be ingrained in his DNA to never pass up a good shot no matter how many consecutive times he’s attempted a bucket already.

Beasley almost can’t believe how much the team wants him to shoot, but it surely worked tonight as Beasley produced a game-high plus 24 in his 34 minutes as the Suns’ starters as a unit soundly beat the starting unit sans Iguodala and Gallinari that the Nuggets put out on the floor.

“I thought I was shooting, but every game they’re telling me I’ve got to shoot more, I’ve got to shoot more, I’ve got to shoot more,” Beasley said. “They’re not telling me to shoot every time I touch the ball, but if I have a shot every time I touch the ball they definitely don’t want me to pass up on it. It’s going to take some adjusting. I like it so far.”

It would be ridiculous to read too much into a strong preseason performance from a player like Beasley against a depleted opponent, but tonight he showed glimpses of the player the Suns hope he becomes on a more consistent basis.  In fact, he was good enough after the game for Gentry to say “that’s the kind of effort we have to get from him night-in and night-out. That’s got to be our goal.”

The crazy part is that Beasley did not feel like he was even hot tonight. If this was a lukewarm outing, I’d like to see the guy when he’s sizzling, but perhaps if he’s always fully engaged as he was tonight he won’t always need to be piping hot to be a major contributor.

Beasley was good enough that it was easy to forget that Scola, Gortat and Dudley combined to shoot just 7-for-28 (25 percent), and the Suns won’t often blow out opponents when that’s the case.

Gentry did not forget that Denver scored 54 points in the paint as the Suns once again struggled with dribble penetration and yielding offensive rebounds. The Nuggets also collected 15 offensive caroms and won the rebounding battle by 13.

“That’s something obviously that is a concern,” Gentry said of Denver’s busy night in the paint. “It’s not all going to happen overnight, but I think our guys all have great attitudes. We’ll continue to work and get better.”

The Suns’ defense as a whole really stiffened up in the second half against a Nuggets team that torched them in a pair of exhibition contests last season. Phoenix yielded a mere 26 points on 26.2 percent shooting (1-for-7 from deep) in the third and fourth quarters to seal the victory while Beasley provided the punch on the other end.

Starting Wednesday the games will start for real after a 4-3 preseason slate, and if the Suns get this Beasley more nights than not then their free agency gamble on the talented forward will be well worth it.

“I thought the effort was there,” Gentry said. “We had some good moments, and we’re still in a situation where we’re trying to get better and grow as a team. That’s still going to take a little bit of time.”

And 1

  • Jermaine O’Neal (left wrist sprain) and P.J. Tucker (eye procedure) missed the contest, allowing Markieff Morris the opportunity to play 22 minutes as the backup center. He scored eight points and grabbed four boards, while picking up just one foul. That pushed Luke Zeller into the backup power forward role, and Blanks’ favorite shooter hit 2-of-6 shots to score five points in 21 minutes while committing five fouls and struggling a bit on defense.
  • Gentry was asked about whether Scola may be fatigued from his Olympic summer. Needless to say, that’s not a concern of the Suns’ head coach: “He’s the least of our worries, I don’t worry about him. When the lights come on he’ll be fine.”
  • As you can see in the above video, Beasley wore a Detroit Tigers shirt out of the arena today, but don’t start thinking he’s a bandwagon fan or even any fan at all of Detroit. “I just like the shirt, I’m a National fan,” Beasley said. “I don’t like the Tigers at all, I just like the shirt, that’s it.”

Tags: Michael Beasley

  • Scott

    I guess when Gentry said there were some combinations out on the floor we wouldn’t see in the regular season, he was mainly referring to any combination including Zeller? ;)

    Not to be down on Zeller, because he actually did better than I expected, but all the other combinations on the floor looked like what we’d see in the regular season … just with O’Neal in there instead of Zeller.

    I’m still pushing for my small ball special unit, though, with Morris at C, Beasley at PF, Marshall at PG, and so on. I want to see a 2nd unit with a credible defense that scores rapidly and well, giving the starters some separation from the other team.

    Also, I suspect Dudley and Brown can play together better than Johnson and Brown.

  • Andres

    Its important to note that besides scoring 29 pts Beasley also had 10 rebounds, 1 ast and 1 blk.
    Not sure why everyone keep saying Scola is trade bait when this guy gives you very good performances almost every game at a very good price tag. Last night he had 7 pts, 8 rebs, 1 ast, 1stl and 4 blocks (!!!). What’s not to love about that? If you want to trade a guy like Scola then you better put a good package together and get a star in exchange which is not likely to happen or otherwise just keep him.

  • B. Cray Z.

    When we can hold the Nuggets to 72 points, our “D” & possibly Elston Turner is the real star of the game.

    That is about half of what they scored against us in many games, including the last time we squared off at US Airways Center for a preseason finale 2 years back.

    This kind of defensive performance needs to be repeated consistently, until it becomes habit. Back to back games played by the Nuggets may have more to do with their anemic 72 points than any positives by our Suns.

    Our bench unit continues to be a problem for the Suns. I would love to campaign to bring Barbosa back but it’s too late. Only a 1-year deal with the Celtics shows that we could have done the same & still maintained cap flexibility for next year. Garrett & Zeller cost less but will not make a contribution to any wins. Last place appears to be management’s true goal, considering the sorry state of our bench unit.

  • DBreezy

    Good to get a solid chance to see them on tv before the season starts. Big picture, it was yet another preseason game vs a team that was on the 2nd night of a home/away back to back resting three of it’s key players and it showed. While neither team could find the hole consistently last night, as Hubie Brown said, DEN basically stopped running in the second half and that was pretty much it for them-especially with Beas doing that well.

    While there was more effort in the 2nd half, it kind of bugs me reading the tweet on this page from Duds claiming the D stepped up. They gutted out a W, but that’s not the kind of defensive performance I’d want to be hanging my hat on. The Nugs crushed them on the glass, but either missed or often just fumbled away easy putbacks. The majority of their whopping 27 turnovers didn’t look like the forced variety to me. They mostly looked like guys who were tired and not used to playing with each other making the kinds of plays they do in preseason. While I do think Goran did a nice job of bothering him, Lawson looked generally listless. The Suns still nearly got doubled up on points in the paint, due to poor defense and nearly being doubled up on the glass. Imagine if Lawson had his usual bounce.

    Offensively, they’re going to have be a lot more efficient than they were last night. Everybody outside of Beasley and Goran was pretty much a mess. Gortat looks lost offensively without a steady diet of S/R’s He was only effective as a jump shooter and looked uncomfortable in the post against Koufos. It was hard for me not to notice, Marcin struggling to figure out what to do down there, then watching the heretofore underachieving Koufos make a pair of jump hooks with both hands.

    At first I thought the dramatic drop in S/R’s was solely due to learning the new corner O, but after reading the scout’s view on SI before the game, perhaps it’s something else. The scout noted that the Suns will really miss Frye because the respect that defenses had to give him as a stretch shooter, opened up things for Nash, Gortat and others. Nash pretty much always had a stretch 4 like Dirk or Frye or a dominant inside force like Stat, Howard, Gasol or Marion. Goran doesn’t have that making it even harder for him to try and fill Nash’s shoes. Hubie Brown pointed out a few times last night that Goran knows what to do, but he simply can’t get in the paint to do it and Goran made a recent comment about the poor spacing. Scola seems to see it too, going out for the old Grant Hill corner 3 even though he knows that’s not really part of his game.

    In any case without a ton of S/R’s, Marcin is going to have to play more like McGee, Faried, and Randolph did last night (with varying success!) He’s going to have to run the floor hard, keep moving and attack the offensive glass like a madman. Hopefully only having good performances vs a Bogut-less Warriors squad and post-Cousins leaving the other night brings that home for him.

    Beasley really just seemed to be getting a lot of the shots that Grant Hill used to get in the offense, but since he’s far more athletic than Grant at this stage of his career he can get a lot more of them off vs tighter D than Grant could. Scola looks like a mixed bag so far to me. He clearly seems to give them a better overall floor game than Kieff at the moment, but he hasn’t looked particularly effective so far offensively. That’s only a worry if they’re expecting him to put up numbers every night imo. When Denver was still competing, the Suns bench didn’t look too good.

    All in all, I guess I can see why that one ESPN prediction had them as low as 26W’s, although I still tend to think they’ll exceed that albeit not by a ton. Night in and out they don’t have a discernible advantage vs their opponents and will depend heavily on Goran and Beas having strong nights and Gentry getting consistent effort/belief all the time from the other players. I’ve seen 2 games now and both times teams attempted to trap Goran in the half court, which seems like a clear signal as to what other coaches are thinking.

    It’s not a bad thing though, this should be a developmental year imo and if things click and they make the postseason so be it. I saw people on the Bright Side game thread, saying it’s a good thing that the starters are mostly young and can play 40mpg because of the bench’s inconsistency, but I think that would be the wrong way to go. Seems like Alvin should sit down with Lance, Lon, and Bobert, review the preseason and say look we’re going to play hard, try and develop all of these guys as best we can and see what happens vs. playing the win every game at all costs style of recent years. Why carry 15, predominantly younger, players and not do that?

    It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first battle against the evil Galatic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal……..

  • Scott

    @Andres -

    Scola is trade bait in the sense that he’s a quality player at a low price, a veteran, that could be particularly valuable on a contending team. The Suns could use Scola in trade as they try to rebuild / get younger / get a star.

    @ B Cray Z -

    Keep in mind the Nuggs had 27 TOs. Most of that was unforced.

    @DBreezy -

    The Suns try to have a stretch 4 to open up the middle. Scola has some ability to shoot the 3, and we may see this part of his game open up more as the season progresses. He did attempt 2 of them in the game (both missed).

    Also, Gortat can score with other players feeding him the ball, but we can expect a longer period of adjustment on that.

    One situation I’m curious about, which we may never see in play, is how Gortat might fare in run outs and the P&R with Marshall.

  • suns68

    @ andres – since when have the Suns been shy about trading our best player(s)?

  • Ty-Sun

    This is going to be an odd and probably frustrating – at times – season for Suns fans. When most of the team is playing their best they can beat anyone. But if most of them are off their game then they can get beaten by anyone. Sound familiar? That was pretty much last season’s team too except we kept hoping that Nash would pull a rabbit out of his hat and bring us a win when everyone else had an off night.

    This year it’s wide open as to who might step up on any given night and there’s no single player that everyone can point to and hope that he can win any given game for us all by himself. But once this team comes together and learns how to best play with each other it will be a dangerous team. Not a championship team but still a dangerous team.

    Dragic, Dudley, Beasley and Gortat have all shown they can put up great numbers. Scola will be a consistent threat too. Morris, Johnson and Brown are all threats too. If O’Neal stays healthy he will be a force on the second unit too (last night was preseason game that meant nothing, I doubt he would have sat out a regular season game with that injury).

    It’s going to be a very interesting season to say the least.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott -

    I think we could see how Marcin does in runouts, but it’s up to him to do it. That’s basically what Goran responded when asked about how Marcin was going to score without Nash and a big part of how guys like Faried, McGee and even Randolph were getting shot attempts last night.

    While I do think Marcin can finish with others feeding him, he doesn’t seem to be nearly as prolific at it when it’s not off a direct S/R. Also it seems like Nash may have hidden the fact that his hands aren’t the greatest with his amazing passes. Several of the passes he got last night looked pretty solid be he had trouble handling them.

    As for the stretch 4, I know why they try to have one, but the defense has to respect them for it to work and the Suns don’t really have anybody to force the issue. Before you either had Amar’e, who made you decide to sink in your defense unless you wanted to give up dunks which opened up 3′s or a Frye or JRich to open up the middle. Now it seems like teams may just play in between because they don’t have to be overly concerned about either.

    From what we’ve so far, if you’re an opponent why not just trap the ball out of Goran’s hands, stay home on Duds, keep Scola and Gortat out of the paint and force Beasley to try and beat you over the top on 2pt shots? Even if he scores 30 points, it won’t be enough to win, meanwhile you control the glass, get runouts off of any miss because they’re all jumpers, and severely limit free throws.

  • Andres

    @ Scott – I get your point but also a quality veteran at a low price could be a very good asset for a rebuilding team. When you put a young core together you also need veterans around it

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    I know some people here believe Gortat has hands of clay and can only control a catch if the ball is handed off and placed under his jersey. ;)

    However, receiving passes is a rhythm thing. You have to know when to look for a pass. My guess is that Gentry has been absorbed with trying to get Scola and Beasley going, and has not placed any emphasis on integrating Gortat into the offense yet. This may come along once the season gets underway.

    We’ve also discussed before how there may simply be fewer touches for Gortat, because he’s not the focal point on offense any more. If Gortat was playing on the 2nd unit (not likely to happen), he could probably be a primary offensive threat with them, as there’s not much scoring going on there yet.

    As for your analysis of how to defend the Suns … I think that’s about it. The Suns have come into this season knowing Beasley is the hardest cover, so he’s the main scorer. Dragic is second hardest cover, and Scola and Dudley are about the same. Of the starters, Gortat would be the last consideration, as so far he’s not that skilled at generating his own points, and he’s not being used in plays.

    If the Suns can’t score transition points off of rebounds and steals, they’ll be scoring off of tricks … like Beasley getting the ball early before the defense is set, or Scola getting the ball out on the perimeter (not that strong of a play, IMO). If they can’t get anywhere on tricks, then it’s up to self-creation, with Beasley being the go-to guy.

    Of course, it’s conceptually similar to the old days: try to trap Nash (“cut off the head of the snake”) and deny Amare either the ball or position, and if you can do that, then the Suns may score from other angles, but not enough to win.

  • Scott

    @Andres -

    Yes, and the Suns will have to weigh what they’re getting in trade versus what they’d be losing in Scola.

    If there’s nothing good available in trade this summer, the Suns aren’t hurt by keeping Scola. That’s part of what makes his signing so great.

  • JZ

    I believe Beasley can truly mature with this team. Could you imagine if PHX had sign a healthy Eric Gordon? Suns still need a quality SG which they’ll probably draft or sign by next off season. (Harden or draft) Suns basketball is still going to be fun to watch this season. I feel sorry for MVSteve though. It looks like he won’t be an assist leader for the rest of his career the way the Laker’s offense is run. He could have been if he had stayed a SUN!!!

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    I wouldn’t say Gortat has Kwame hands, just that they may not be as good they looked with Nash. It’s a rare skill, Amar’e’s hands look the same to me be it with Nash, Marbury, Felton, Lin, etc. Marion’s look better with a good pg and they look better in space vs in traffic. In any case, Marcin needs to adjust his mentality to the one he had when he first got here. He’s got to find the ball vs waiting for his number to be called.

    They likely will score in the manner you described, to me the big question is how efficient can they be at it? That along with the D will determine the number of W’s IMO. We kind of get spoiled as Suns fans with teams that have scored big and been efficient. So much so that we tend to feel that they’re synonymous. Like people who think heat and humidity are the same thing before coming to the desert. We don’t usually think about teams like TOR, WAS, GS, MIL, etc that often can score a lot of points on a nightly basis but are terribly inefficient at it most nights.

    As for cutting off the head of the snake, what’s going to be that release option for the Suns? Before they were always one smart decision away from a dunk or a wide open 3 for a high percentage shooter. Now, not so much in fact I think there are times that Goran may have to do what Nash never did and actually dribble out of the trap with his athleticism.

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    AND … who is going to go to the line?

    My guess is that Dragic could turn out to be the primary guy going to the line.

  • DBreezy

    Wow if the reported offer is true, than Harden and Pelinka made an awful decision. Turning down what amounted to 1.125M guaranteed a year and choosing to be traded instead? Assuming it was guaranteed that’s not even in the ballpark of the many discussions over Sarver’s offer to Amar’e vs. Ny. OKC will still be very good, but there have to be a lot of smiles in the locker rooms of a lot of WC playoff squads right now thinking about Kevin Martin and Lamb instead. It also looks like it’s the 3rd time that the finances of the new cba outweighed trading a quality player to an inter-conference or intra-division rival(Nash, Harden, Odom). Mutually assured destruction.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Breezy – yet somehow the stupid Lakers still get everyone they want….nobody else but them.

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    Maybe Harden wanted out, wanted to go to a team where he’d be “the man.”

  • Luka

    The Suns will have to go small against Miami for instance. You’d really want one C, Beasley at the 4, and three wings.

    The big problem is this Suns team is thin on defensive wings. Wesley Johnson hasn’t proven he can defend, and Beasley will be a liability.

    This leaves Gentry with his “ace in the hole” PJ Tucker to guard LeBron, KD, Granger etc… I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

  • Scott

    @Luka -

    If you’re hoping to beat Miami on anything other than a fluke, you’re more hopeful about the season than I am.

    The thought never even crossed my mind.

    I was hoping the Suns could beat Denver, Golden State, Houston, Utah, and Minnesota.

  • Luka

    @Scott Yeah, I agree. I’m trying to be optimistic. And realistically, they can lose on any given night to the teams you’ve mentioned above. The western conference is on the up and up. Even teams like: Sacramento, and New Orleans will be dogfights. The Hornets have done a tremedous job re-building IMO.

    I think this SSOL nonsense has to go, and Gentry along with it. Dragic isn’t going to be able to run it, and essentially the Suns are again a jump shooting team. It just isn’t a consistent formula without the right personnel.

    You’ll see the ball stick a lot more, and once again the Suns will be forcing up contested jumpers more often than not.And honestly, does anyone still want to hear Alvin’s excuse after losses of “We just need to make shots.”

    Frankly, I think this front office is clueless. Robert Sarver is a certifiable moron. I’ll give Babby a little credit for swindling teams, and getting the Suns under the cap. But shiiiit it was a meandering mess getting here. Blanks meanwhile is just doing what he can in player development on a shoestring budget.

    The only way to get this mess turned around, is to tank, and hard. Babby can give us the pride rethoric, but if he was such a good VP he would’ve sent Nash packing in 2010-2011, and gotten some young talent and better draft picks.

    Here’s what I would do…

    1. Push to void out Frye’s contract for medical reasons.

    2. Allow team to flounder until all-star break when Gentry is fired.

    3. Try to acquire a legit PF via trade.

    4. Naturally allow team to tank, and watch Sarver panic from the cheap seats.

  • DBreezy

    @Luka,

    1. If I understand the rules correctly, they can’t even apply for a medical retirement to get out of Frye’s deal until next summer, so no need to think about it till then. Just keep doing what they’re doing and see what happens, this is not the same as guys like Hayes and Green who just signed their deals.

    2. Why make a decision on Gentry this season? He’s in the last year of his deal, making it easier to clean house at the end of the year if they choose. Unless you’re more confident in one of the assistants right now, whom they’d probably promote if they were, then you’ll likely to find a better candidate next summer when more people are available. The Suns have struggled to land big coaches from outside the organization, so they should probably have all the advantages they can get if that’s what they want. That would also include giving said coach some level of draft and/or free agency input.

    3. Why trade for a PF when you 3 rotation ones healthy on the roster now, and if the season looks as bad as you’re predicting they’re looking at a draft that is frontcourt heavy?

    4. I think they’re basically already of this mindset.