December 26, 2008 in Sports

Beasley, Rose ready for face off

Nos. 1 and 2 of 2008 draft square off in Miami
By TIM REYNOLDS Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Michael Beasley plays the host role today when he and Derrick Rose face off for the first time in the NBA.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Today: Chicago at Miami, 2 p.m. TV: ESPN

MIAMI – Michael Beasley likes Derrick Rose, enjoys watching him play, even has been following his fellow rookie’s stats over the course of their first NBA season.

So when they meet as full-fledged pros for the first time today, don’t expect some acrimonious mano-a-mano matchup.

“No, we’re cool,” Beasley said.

That being said, there will certainly be extra emphasis for the Miami Heat forward when he finally gets a chance to play against the Chicago Bulls in a regular-season contest. See, even now, six months later, the sting of being passed over when the Bulls used their No. 1 overall draft pick on Rose isn’t something Beasley – taken by Miami at No. 2 – can forget.

Indeed, Dec. 26 has been on Beasley’s calendar for some time.

“Me and Derrick Rose, that’s irrelevant,” Beasley said. “It’s me and Chicago, Miami and Chicago. I’ve been thinking about this game for a long time, just because they didn’t pick me. It’s nothing against them. It’s natural.”

Team-wise, so far, it’s Advantage, Beasley.

Numbers-wise to this point, Advantage, Rose.

The Heat are 15-12, already having matched last season’s win total, and seem like they’ll be entrenched in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

Meanwhile, the Bulls are 13-15, just 3-12 on the road and haven’t been over the .500 mark since Nov. 3, which explains why Rose isn’t all that interested in hyping the 1-versus-2 matchup.

“I can’t do anything but treat it like another game,” Rose said. “We need a win too badly, especially on the road, for me to think about anything else.”

Rose is already a fan favorite in Chicago, with good reason: It’s his hometown.

And another native son of Chicagoland says he’s watching the Bulls’ rookie, too.

“Derrick Rose, he’s taken the league by storm with athletic ability,” said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who grew up in Chicago. “I mean, he’s one of the best penetrators, finishers, that the league has already. And he’s going to keep coming at us. This guy’s going to keep coming, keep coming, especially … because of him and Beasley, first and second pick. I’m sure he wants to live up to the hype.”

But while Rose has blossomed – he’s second among rookies in scoring (17.5, 2.4 points behind Memphis’ O.J. Mayo), tops in assists (6.2) and has started all 27 games in which he’s appeared – Beasley has found the learning curve to be a bit steeper.

An accomplished scorer at the high school, prep school and college levels, Beasley is now coming off the bench in Miami.

His defense is scrutinized often, and while he’s still tied for third among rookies in scoring (13.3, same as Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook), it’s second-round choice Mario Chalmers – Miami’s starting point guard – who appears the more valuable first-year player to the Heat thus far.

“Michael will continue to get his opportunity. He is in the rotation,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He needs to continue to get better defensively, which he is. He’s come a long ways and he’s had some very good practices the last two weeks. … It’s not just a steady incline with young guys. You have to live with the ups and the downs.”

Beasley and Rose have actually squared off as pros once already, in a game very few people saw.

Their teams met in Orlando in the first game of this year’s summer league, and Beasley scored 28 points in only 23 minutes to lead the Heat to an easy 94-70 victory.

This game will be different, and certainly more competitive, but Beasley said his approach will remain the same.

If Miami wins, he’ll be happy.

If Miami loses, he’ll be angry.

And in either case, what the box score says either he or Rose did will be irrelevant.

“I’m here to play, man,” Beasley said. “I’m not going to be guarding him. Playing against him, it’s not a big deal to me, at all. We’re in the same draft class, so we’re kind of stuck with that Derrick Rose-Mike Beasley thing. But that’s not what it’s about.”

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