Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley returned from his 12-game NBA suspension Saturday not yet the player he was a month ago, but what he called an improved man.
He started, played nearly 30 minutes, shot 4-for-17 from the field — including 3-for-12 on threes — and scored 13 points, all but two of them in the second half.
He did so in a 129-107 loss to Houston at Target Center that he said, speaking only for himself, left him "embarrassed" by a loss to an opponent that had lost 22 of its past 23 games before a trading deadline makeover.
Beasley returned to action and the starting lineup for the first time since a Feb. 24 game at Chicago, after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of making threats of violence outside his home last September.
"It felt good to be back out there playing with my teammates," he said. "It has been a while."
He said those 12 games missed without pay and month away from playing games left him time for both introspection and evaluation of his team from afar on game days.
"I feel way better," he said in a video call with reporters afterward. "I feel like my life is where it needs to be. I got a chance to work on myself on and off the court. I learned from my mistakes, and I'm ready to move on for it."
Beasley, 24, had time to practice with the team when they did and do work both on the court by himself and out in the world. He purchased 100 backpacks fill with school supplies and delivered them socially distanced to a school on Friday and also participated in a virtual classroom reading.
"Just work on my mental health and my image, did a few things off the court and in the community, also watched from a distance," he said.
"Watching the games at home while I wasn't playing was tough for me, but to see the team use a different dynamic of offense and defense, it was a chance for me to learn from that."
He missed eight of his first nine shots and didn't make a three — his primary skill — until the third quarter.
"The energy, the intention was there," Wolves coach Chris Finch said. "It's just fairly typical. I'm glad he made some late so hopefully he knocked a little bit of the rust off."
Beasley made two of his three three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
"He was finding his stroke," teammate Karl-Anthony Towns said. "You could see he was getting more and more comfortable. It's a long layoff, 10 games is no joke. You understand he was going to have a little rust. We should have understood that as a team, that we've got to play even better with him coming back so we can give him easier shots, easier opportunities and help ease him into the game. Obviously, we didn't do that."
Beasley called himself fit for his return and said he felt better as the game progressed, but admitted he needs to improve defensively.
"It felt good to be back out there, making a few shots," he said. "I prepared for this a lot. Stamina-wise, I felt great. My body feels great.
''I've got to get my rhythm back. I tried my best to get as much rhythm as I can and I've got to continue that …
"I got a chance to watch the team and see what we're good at and see what we have to work on. Now it's time to get back to work."