PORTLAND, Ore. — Michael Beasley said he doesn’t care if he takes a shot as long as the Knicks win games. Their chances might improve, however, if he could take over games the way he did for stretches earlier in the season.
Beasley hasn’t made the kind of impact that was expected after the Knicks lost Kristaps Porzingis for the season to a torn ACL last month. That’s not the reason the Knicks (24-40) are freefalling, having lost 12 of 13 heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Trail Blazers. Their defense and effort level have been main causes. But even Jeff Hornacek is waiting for Beasley to have the kind of high-scoring game he’s capable of producing.
“There are times when he’s trying to make the right play, but we need him to be aggressive, attack the basket, get some fouls on guys,” Hornacek said after practice at the University of Portland on Monday. “I can’t remember what game that was — I think Boston — when he just said, ‘You can’t stop me.’ We got to do a better job of getting him in those positions a little bit more, but he’s just got to keep fighting and do it defensively and get a couple of offensive rebounds, couple of tip-ins, couple of steals. Just try to get back into it.”
Hornacek was referring to a game in December against the Celtics in which Porzingis shot 0-for-11. Beasley shot 13-for-20 and scored 32 points to lead the Knicks to the victory. In his last five games, however, he has shot 14-for-41, scored 37 points and committed 11 turnovers.
When he was told what Hornacek said about the Boston game, Beasley responded, “I always feel like that.” Asked what has changed, he said, “I don’t know. I don’t call the plays.”
The biggest difference, according to Hornacek, is that the Knicks are playing different guards than they were then and that the new ones are not setting him up the way Jarrett Jack did.
“I got to wait for people to get me involved and things like that,” Beasley said. “So that’s tough. But I do it.”
Beasley averaged 18.8 points in the first four games after Porzingis got hurt. Jack still was the starting point guard then. Hornacek has started Emmanuel Mudiay since the Knicks came out of the All-Star break, with Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina playing big minutes off the bench.
“We have different types of guards,” Hornacek said. “Jarrett did a great job of getting us into half-court sets, which probably allows those guys to end up getting up there a little bit more.”
Beasley, who is averaging 12.4 points this season, signed a one-year deal last summer and has been auditioning for another contract with the Knicks. The organization likes him, and the Knicks are going to need scoring next season with Porzingis out indefinitely, so Beasley could return. But he said his goal for the final 18 games of the season is “18 wins.”
“My play doesn’t really concern me,’’ he said. “I don’t have to take any shots. As long as we win the game, I’m fine.”