We’re on assignment for a couple days, so no full Wednesday buzz column today. Instead, some postscripts and thoughts from a highly entertaining Heat win over the Thunder, UM’s disappointing 5000 mile journey to Hawaii, and a couple Dolphins notes:
### Good to see Mario Chalmers put together not only his best game of the season, but his best work since his 25-point outburst in Game 4 of the Finals in June. Chalmers’ 20 points were essential on a night Miami’s bench shot just 3 of 16, with Shane Battier going 0 for 5.
Also notable: Chalmers didn’t commit a turnover. And unlike numerous games in the past three weeks, Chalmers – not Norris Cole – played down the stretch.
### LeBron James’ streak of six straight games without a foul ended in the first quarter, but James was brilliant, as usual, with 29 points (his 30th straight regular season game with 20 or more), nine assists and eight rebounds. His biggest assist was the nifty pass to Chris Bosh for a dunk that put Miami up 98-95 with 26 seconds left.
With that basket, Bosh is now 8 for 9 from the field and 10 for 10 from the line in the last five minutes of games with a margin of five points or less.
### The Heat went 19 for 19 from the line, the second best effort in franchise history behind only a 30-for-30 game against Boston in 1993.
### Though the Thunder went to the line far more often (38 to 19 times), the Heat got into the basket area, shooting 21 for 30 in the paint, compared with 14 for 35 for the Thunder.
### Despite the bench’s offensive inefficiency Tuesday, Allen was a factor late (as usual), and Joel Anthony had four rebounds and two blocks. It looks like Erik Spoelstra has settled on an effective 10-man rotation that might stay intact for a while barring an injury.
### Russell Westbrook finished 5 for 19 from the field and posted the worst plus/minus (minus 9) of anybody who played in the game.... The Heat is now 7-2 all-time on Christmas.
### With Reggie Johnson missing all three games with a thumb injury, UM finished a disappointing 1-2 in Hawaii, including a resounding loss to third-ranked Arizona and a disappointing 57-55 overtime loss to Indiana State on Christmas night. That blunted the momentum of a seven-game winning streak and an 8-1 start in non-conference play.
### Embarrassing: Indiana State shot 27 percent and still won – the worst of any NCAA team in a win this season, covering hundreds of games.
### UM went 0 for 15 on threes on Christmas night, ending a streak of 354 games with at least one three-pointer. It was the first time UM didn’t make a three-pointer in a game since December 2001 against Indiana. Shane Larkin was 0 for 5, and Durand Scott, Trey McKinney-Jones and Rion Brown all 0 for 3.
### Unusually poor night for UM's backcourt --- Scott finished 4 for 13, Larkin 2 for 13 for UM, which shot 33.8 percent from the field and just 11 for 21 from the line.
### Though Julian Gamble played well Tuesday (11 points, 9 rebounds), Johnson’s absence magnified Miami’s poor frontcourt depth. Coach Jim Larranaga trusted only seven players, with Brown and the limited Raphael Akpejiori the only reserves who logged more than one minute of playing time.
### UM (8-3) has only one more non-conference game left: next Wednesday (Jan. 2) at home against LaSalle, before opening ACC play. UM played a tough non-conference schedule (ranked eighth-most difficult in the nation). But the Canes likely will need to go at least 10-8 in the conference to make the NCAA Tournament, unless they secure an automatic berth by winning the ACC tournament. (There's a new 18-game conference schedule this season.)
### New Dolphins cornerback Dimitri Patterson made a strong case to stick around beyond this year in Sunday’s win at Buffalo; Ryan Fitzpatrick completed only 2 of 8 passes thrown against him for 11 yards. Let’s see what Patterson, cut by Cleveland last week, can do against Tom Brady & Co. Sunday. He’s due $4.5 million next season if Miami keeps him around.
“We were really impressed with his ability to pick up the scheme number one,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. “We certainly were happy to have him join us here last week. On tape we liked him a lot. We had looked at him prior to the season actually. Back in the spring time he was a guy who we had on our radar who we liked. So when he became available we felt good about getting him in here and it was a matter of whether he could get up to speed fast enough. He played a very, very solid game for us.”
### Pro Football Focus keeps making a big deal about Miami’s lack of consistent pass rush opposite Cameron Wake, noting that Jared Odrick rushed the quarterback 36 times Sunday and had no sacks and just one pressure.