Beasley shines against Cavaliers

November, 13, 2009
11/13/09
9:12
AM ET

THURSDAY, NOV. 12
HIGHLIGHTS
Michael Beasley, Heat: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 2 3-pointers and 2 steals versus the Cavaliers.
Andrew Bynum, Lakers: 26 points (13-18 FG), 15 rebounds and 3 blocks against the Suns.
Mo Williams, Cavaliers: 25 points (10-15 FG) and 5 3-pointers versus the Heat.
LOWLIGHTS
Leandro Barbosa, Suns: 9 points, an assist and a 3-pointer in 20 minutes against the Lakers.
Jason Richardson, Suns: 5 points (2-9 FG, 0-5 3-pt FG), 3 rebounds and no assists versus the Lakers.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Suns: 8 points (2-15 FG) and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes against the Lakers.

Sophomore forward Michael Beasley is averaging 13.9 points per game this season, a mark identical to his rookie average, but he showed a glimpse of his immense potential Thursday by posting 24 points on the Cleveland Cavaliers, who finished third in defensive efficiency last season and currently rank fifth. Although he picked up only six rebounds to go along with his scoring outburst, he chipped in two 3-pointers, two steals and a block while going 4-for-4 from the line.

This was the big game Beasley's owners had been waiting for; it was only his second game with more than 15 points scored this season, unacceptable considering he is expected to be the Heat's No. 2 option. Toss in the fact he was just 2-for-12 from beyond the arc entering the game and has only two games all season in which he's pulled down more than six rebounds, and Beasley actually saw his ownership drop 10.7 percent in the past week.

That is why we preach patience in the early part of the season, though, as chances are that Beasley will step it up sooner rather than later. It also makes sense that the Heat would take it slowly with their oft-troubled forward, but Thursday's performance marked both his most minutes in a game and his third consecutive game with at least 30 minutes. He launched 17 shot attempts, just four fewer than Dwyane Wade, who dropped 36 points, and six more attempts than player who had the next most, Jermaine O'Neal with 11. To put it succinctly, shame on you if you were one of those impatient few. Beasley still is likely to deliver on the breakout season many of us, including myself, expect. If so, what qualifies as his best game of this young season might end up a footnote when it's all said and done.

Looking Back

• Surely it couldn't have been much of a surprise to see Andrew Bynum (26 points, 15 rebounds) go off with the likes of the Suns' Channing Frye defending him, but it nonetheless was a pleasant sight to see in his return from an elbow injury. The 39-plus minutes he's averaging are a concern -- that doesn't sound ideal for a player who has missed a combined 79 games in the past two seasons -- but the bright side is that he's able to log that many minutes, as he's currently sporting the best foul rate (2.8 per game) of his career.

• It was an ugly night all around for the Suns, but specifically for Leandro Barbosa. It marked a continuation of his struggles; he finished the night scoring nine points on 4-of-12 shooting. Since combining for 41 points in his first two games, Barbosa has scored just 37 in four games, topping double-digits just once. With almost zero production outside of points and 3-pointers, Barbosa has been a tremendous disappointment for owners expecting a bounce-back season, and since he comes off the bench to begin with, he's not a guy you should display much patience with.

• Don't get too excited about J.J. Hickson's 18 points in 31 minutes. Anderson Varejao picked up four fouls in 14 minutes and Shaquille O'Neal accumulated five in 21 minutes, necessitating such use. That said, both players tend to be foul-prone, so Hickson is worth a look in deeper leagues as long as he's starting. And back-to-back scoreless nights from Quentin Richardson undoubtedly burned many of his new owners; you should know better than to place much faith in him at this stage of his career.

Looking Ahead

Paul Millsap owners should keep a close eye on the Jazz's next two games, against the 76ers on Friday and the Cavaliers on Saturday. Word is that coach Jerry Sloan might look to shake up the starting lineup a bit, although it's unknown precisely what that entails. Considering Andrei Kirilenko's improved shooting (43.8 percent from beyond the arc), the Jazz could go small with Kirilenko at the 4, leaving Carlos Boozer and/or Mehmet Okur coming off the bench, or could replace Boozer with Millsap outright. … Contests between the Warriors-Knicks, Rockets-Kings (Friday), Timberwolves-Grizzlies and Warriors-Bucks (Saturday) should be run-and-gun affairs, as each team ranks in the league's upper echelon in terms of pace. On the flip side, games between the Trail Blazers-Hornets, Nets-Magic (Friday), Bobcats-Trail Blazers and Nets-Heat (Saturday) should all be plodding affairs, with every team involved ranked in the bottom half in possessions per game. Also, make sure to note who the top defenses are -- the Bucks, Celtics, Heat, Thunder, Cavs and Bobcats, in descending order of effectiveness, are the only teams allowing fewer than one point per possession -- so you can set your lineups accordingly. … Chris Douglas-Roberts (swine flu), Ryan Anderson (ankle), Thaddeus Young (shoulder), Russell Westbrook (ankle), Nate Robinson (ankle), Pau Gasol (hamstring), T.J. Ford (back) and Josh Howard (ankle) are all day-to-day entering Friday's contests.

Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

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