Several Heat items after Golden State’s wildly entertaining 123-114 victory Thursday night:
### Stephen Curry (36 points, 12 assists, 8 for 15 on threes) became only the third player to put up at least 35 points and a dozen assists against the Heat, joining luminaries Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson.
“It was incredible,” Dwyane Wade said. “A few times we were in his jersey and he made shots. There is nothing you can do. You can contest it and hope he misses it.”
### David Lee (32 points, 14 rebounds) was also destructive, and Curry and Lee became the first teammates to score at least 30 points against the Heat since LeBron James (42) and Mo Williams (30) did that for Cleveland against the Heat on March 2, 2009.
### The Heat (24-8) dropped 1.5 games before Indiana for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
### Miami entered allowing 97.5 points per game, seventh-best in the league. Golden State’s 123 were a season-high by a Heat opponent.
### LeBron James had nearly as many turnovers (eight) as field goals (10)... Chris Bosh, who shot 6 for 16, failed to hit 50 percent of his shots for the first time in 11 games, which would have set a career mark.
### The four players who sit atop ESPN’s efficiency ratings for small forwards are all superstars: James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.
The fifth? He’s earning just over $1 million, averaging a career low in points and minutes, and sometimes doesn’t even play.
That Heat forward Michael Beasley has risen to fifth in that category might be surprising but isn’t shocking, considering he has improved his shooting, rebounding, defense and other aspects of his game.
Beasley ranked 30th in efficiency among small forwards two years for Minnesota and 48th (of 67) last season for Phoenix.
Beasley also plays a lot at power forward and would rank 13th among power forwards in efficiency if ESPN had listed him at that position. But ESPN lists him as a small forward.
Regardless of what forward position he plays, his efficiency rating this season tops those of clearly above-average starters such as Serge Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard, Luol Deng and Andre Iguodola.
“He has embraced the whole thing,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Players are gaining more trust in him. The staff is gaining more trust in him.”
Beasley entered Thursday’s game against Golden State averaging 19.2 minutes per game, lowest of his career and well below his 26.4 average entering the season. He also is averaging a career-low 9.9 points, purely a function of his reduced minutes.
But his 52.6 percent shooting from the field easily tops his 44.7 career average entering the season, including a career-low 40.5 for Phoenix last season.
The biggest improvement offensively has come on shots from 10 to 15 feet; Beasley is making 47.6 percent of those attempts after shooting between 32 and 38 in each of his five previous seasons.
Spoelstra said playing “with a better team” with “better ball movement” also is a factor in his improved shooting percentage, as well “as understanding where we like to get our offense.”
A career 34.5 percent three-point shooter before this season, Beasley had made 12 of 24 threes entering Thursday.
Also, Beasley is averaging 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, topping his 5.4 career average.
And “defensively, he’s more focused,” forward Rashard Lewis said.
Beasley's maturity off the court has been praised by several members of the organization. He arrives well before practice starts, even two hours sometimes, as his agent, Allegiant Athletic Agency's Jared Karnes noted.
Beasley hired Karnes a few months ago, and Karnes has done a conscientous job assisting Beasley off the court. So have Beasley's teammates, with Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers both saying they like filling the "big brother" role with him.
### Spoelstra played Beasley instead of Rashard Lewis on Thursday --- a change from the past, when Spoelstra played either both of them or only Lewis. Also, James Jones was inactive for the first time this season.
### Warriors coach Mark Jackson called James “the greatest small forward to ever play this game. He is in the discussion for one of the greatest passers to ever play this game. He is the greatest frontline passer that we have ever seen.”
### The Heat and Nets will wear jerseys with nicknames during their Jan. 10 meeting – the first of a few games the Heat will do that this season – and at least two Heat players say they will not be able to use their nickname of choice because of copyright restrictions.
Mario Chalmers said he wanted to use “Super Mario,” but the NBA said he could not because Nintendo has copyright ownership of that name. He instead will use “Rio.” Shane Battier wanted to use Batman but instead said he had to settle for Battle, which was his family name before it was changed.
The Nets announced Thursday that their nickname jerseys will go on sale next week, with prices ranging from $50 to $110. The Heat also is expected to sell its nickname jerseys but hasn’t announced details or the full list of nicknames that will be used.
As of late Thursday afternoon, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had made no decisions about staff changes after hours of meetings earlier in the day, but news could come as early as Friday, with Ross in favor of assistant coach changes on offense, unless he can be talked out of it by Joe Philbin. A Ross associate mentioned how openly exasperated Philbin was during games about some of Mike Sherman's play calls.
Meanwhile, Al Golden –-- being courted by Penn State --- has told some of his staff that he’s staying at UM, according to one Internet report (CaneInsight.com). Also, Canesport.com reported Golden is "listening" to what Penn State has to say, and that Penn State's search committee is targeting Golden.
Among UM athletic department employees, opinions vary about what Golden will do. Some administrators still believe he will stay put, but one prominent member of the athletic department (and a friend of Golden) believes the job holds appeal to him, at least enough to consider it.
Golden made no comment about Penn State on Thursday but clarity should come shortly, because Penn State said it wants its coaching search to be resolved within days. Vanderbilt's James Franklin and former Colts coach Jim Caldwell are among other reported candidates.
Please see my comment below, in the comment section, about the sanctions Golden would be facing if he goes to Penn State. It's more severe than what he faces if he stays at UM, which has been docked a total of nine scholarships over the next three years --- which UM considers a management amount.
### Palm Beach Cardinal Newman four-star receiver Travis Rudolph orally committed to FSU on Thursday, choosing the Seminoles over UM, UF, Alabama and Auburn.
If you missed it, please see the previous late Thursday morning post for more Dolphins and Canes notes.