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Lakers' Michael Beasley has returned to bolster depleted rotation at forward

Lakers' Michael Beasley has returned to bolster depleted rotation at forward
Lakers forward Michael Beasley elevates for a layup over Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson during the second half of a game Sunday. (Stacy Bengs / Associated Press)

It has been a difficult fall for Michael Beasley, who spent much of the early season away from the Lakers to be with his mother. She passed away last month and the Lakers gave Beasley time to grieve.

Now that he has returned, Beasley has contributed in important ways.

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“It’s nice to have a guy when you need a bucket, you feel confident in dropping the ball to him,” coach Luke Walton said. “But one of the things he’s really impressed me with since he’s been here is his passing ability, too. He’s an unselfish passer. … He’s always looking to corner shooters when he’s penetrating, because he can collapse a defense.”

Beasley has given the Lakers some depth at forward that strengthens their rotations.

“I love it. He’s huge for us,” Tyson Chandler said. “Again, he was one of those guys who was out as well. And having him back, he’s such a mismatch at the four or three position, and brings that punch that we were missing.”

Beasley returned to the team for last Friday’s game against the New York Knicks. He played 11 minutes and had six points, four rebounds and an assist.

He played 20 minutes 46 seconds Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, scoring 11 points on five-for-eight shooting with five rebounds, a steal, a block and five turnovers. During that game, the Lakers failed to score a basket for more than four minutes before Beasley entered and changed that.

His 9:23 of playing time against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday was the most efficient. He scored 13 points, making five of six shots, and had an assist and a block.

“He’s really difficult to defend,” Walton said. “And Dallas went to a zone, and he just went and flashed to the middle. And he just knows how to score. And in the fourth quarter, he gives us somebody that, if we get flat a little bit, or if we’re not making some shots, he’s somebody that’s got no problem making shots.”

Heady company

During Monday night’s game in Dallas, second-year guard Josh Hart played the way he knows he can best help the Lakers — with tenacity and energy. Like a “junkyard dog,” Hart said.

In the process Hart had a season highs in steals (five) and assists (six). His 12 rebounds and 14 points made it the most assists, rebounds and points Hart has had in the same game.

That full stat line put him in some impressive company.

Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic is the only other player this season with at least 14 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five steals. Since the 2016-17 season, only Nurkic, Paul George, LeBron James, James Harden and Draymond Green have matched the feat.

Only three Lakers had done it before Hart — Magic Johnson (nine times), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West. In the last 20 seasons, only three players in their first two NBA seasons have done it — James, Chris Paul and Mardy Collins, who spent four seasons in the NBA with the Knicks and Clippers.

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When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

On Air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN; Radio: 710, 1330.

Update: The Pistons are coming off losses to the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs. Former Clippers star Blake Griffin leads the Pistons with 25.3 points and 5.2 assists per game.

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