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11 p.m. Friday Dolphins update; Reaction after furious Heat rally falls short; An introspective Michael Beasley reflects on his journey and how he has changed

Quick 11 p.m. Dolphins update: No surprise here, but the Dolphins plan to part ways with linebacker Dannell Ellerbe in the coming days. They have explored a trade (his $8.4 million salary next season would be a deterrent) and plan to trade or release him. That would save $5.7 million against the cap pre-June 1.

If he is released with a post-June 1 designation, the Dolphins' cap saving would be $8.4 million but that extra savings cannot be applied before June 1. Ellerbe injured his hip in the opener and missed the rest of the season. The Dolphins are expected to go with Jelani Jenkins at weakside linebacker; he was 22nd in the league with 110 tackles last season.

Phillip Wheeler also remains at serious risk.

For more on the Dolphins' plans at linebackers and other Fins news from Friday, please see the last post.

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A night that could have been punctuated with the biggest comeback win in Heat history instead ended with Miami falling out of playoff seeding, this 99-97 loss in Washington dropping the Heat to ninth in the East at 27-34.

The Heat has the same record as No. 8 Indiana, but the Pacers own the tiebreaker. And the Hornets leapfrogged the Heat into seventh, by half a game.

Down by 35 in the third, the Heat staged a remarkable rally, closing to within one late despite being without Dwyane Wade (hip), Luol Deng (calf) and Mario Chalmers (knee). Miami also lost Goran Dragic (18 points) to a bruised tailbone after a hard fall in the third quarter.

Dragic said his back "locked up and I couldn't move. We'll see [about Saturday against Sacramento]. It's an important game."

Miami had two chances to take the lead in the final seconds, but Henry Walker missed a corner three with six seconds left. And after a Wizards free throw with just over a second left, Michael Beasley (who scored all 13 of his points in the fourth) regrettably took a dribble on an in-bounds pass before launching a shot that came just after the final buzzer. Beasley said "that was a lack of experience. I was so anxious to get the last shot and do great for my team that I just had a brain cramp. That was my fault."

"The execution was adequate but wasn't perfect," Erik Spoelstra said of the last shot.

"[Beasley] was very good in the fourth quarter, a two-way player."

Beasley said collective "embarrassment" fueled the Heat's comeback. "We showed a lot of character, a lot of perseverance. We could have literally lost by 100 points." Instead, the Heat outscored the Wizards, 58-32, after halftime to make it a game.

"In the second half, it was about revealing what your makeup is," Spoelstra said. "It shows you, and it's a shame because we didn't have it in the first half, what unmitigated effort, passion, connection, what you can accomplish in a short period of time. It is not a moral victory, but I do commend those guys on the court and their level of competition."

### Hassan Whiteside played just 20 minutes (10 points, 2 rebounds) and picked up another technical. "He'll be fine; he knows our culture," said Spoelstra, indicating that a sideline conversation with Whiteside that drew some comments on Twitter was nothing more than a normal player/coach discussion.

### Spoelstra said Wade's hip is "sore, didn't loosen up the way we thought it would. It wasn't right enough to play tonight. We'll see [about Saturday against Sacramento]."

### Beasley, who figures to stick around with the Heat after his 10-day contract ends after Saturday's game, showed maturity and self-awareness in a lengthy conversation with a few reporters this week. Here's what he had to say:

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Fear can be a great motivator. So if there is ever any temptation for Michael Beasley to do something he will regret, to display the immaturity he has tried to put squarely in his past, this is the deterrent that resonates:

“My biggest fear right now is my daughter starting to read three-, four-syllable words,” the Heat forward said Tuesday.

“It’s nothing for her to read in a paper: Michael Beasley in trouble. I’m trying to change the way I live for them because they deserve a better example than what I’ve been giving them. That’s where everything is coming from.”

As a first-team All-American at Kansas State and a former No. 2 overall draft pick, Beasley never figured he would be in this position, clinging to an NBA career, playing on 10-day contracts at minimum money.

He views this third opportunity with the Heat as his final NBA chance. “Definitely,” he said. “I’m really playing with desperation. When this goes, I go.”

Beasley, 26, hoped last season’s Heat reunion would rejuvenate his career, would serve as the linchpin to earn him a decent contract somewhere, ideally in Miami. He stayed out of trouble, finished 50th in the NBA in points per 48 minutes and appeared in 55 games.

But he played sparingly in the playoffs and received no guaranteed offers from any NBA team last summer, amid concerns about his maturity, his checkered past and his defensive acumen.

He said the lack of NBA interest didn’t surprise him because “I know the questions that were being asked. Only I could prove those questions right or wrong. I was a little disappointed, disheartened, but surprised? Not really. I had nobody to blame but myself.”

Questions about maturity have swirled around Beasley since his rookie season. He has never been suspended by the NBA but has found himself in a few regrettable situations, including a September 2013 arrest on suspicion of marijuana after a traffic stop. The Suns released him a month later.

Without any guaranteed NBA offers last summer, Beasley attended training camp with the Memphis Grizzlies on a non-guaranteed deal but was released Oct. 9 and signed with the Shanghai Sharks, where he averaged 28.6 points and 10.4 rebounds for a team owned by former NBA star Yao Ming.

He would awake at 5:30 in the morning in China to watch NBA games on television. The thought would often creep into his mind: I could be helping one of these NBA teams.

“Every time that thought comes, there would be a missed screen from somebody… or any easy shot [missed],” he said. “Not the Heat, in particular. I stopped that because I thought I was hating. I stopped trying to compare myself. I love the NBA. I missed it.”

He said the experience in China, being on his own thousands of miles from home, helped him mature.

“I took the opportunity to really find myself on and off the court,” he said. “When you’re by yourself -- professional athletes, entertainers can relate to this  -- you are never really by yourself until dishes are not being washed, food is not being cooked.

“You’ve got to go grocery shopping and wash your clothes. You don’t realize you’re by yourself until you’re alone. Your stomach is growling and there’s nobody there to feed you.”

When his season in China ended, Beasley returned to Miami, where he has maintained a residence, and spent three weeks working out at AmericanAirlines Arena and UM.

The Heat began considering a reunion after Chris Bosh was lost for the season with blood clots on his lungs.

“It was fate,” Beasley said. “And I hate that my triumph has to come from misfortune.”

Beasley met with Heat president Pat Riley before Riley offered him a 10-day contract, and “it was comfortable. We just spoke about life.”

Beasley said the conversation “got heated” when they disagreed about whether he was playing hard during the final few minutes of a game in his second season.

“Ain’t no winning with him,” Beasley said, smiling.

Heat forward Henry Walker has kept in close contact with Beasley since their time as teammates at Kansas State and sees signs of maturity.

“He pays more attention now,” Walker said. “A lot less joking. He’s playing hard as well. He’s playing both sides, not taking any plays off. Once he gets his legs together, he’ll be a monster down the stretch.”

Beasley puts it this way: “I’m still that fun-loving guy that likes to joke but now I understand what’s needed of me, the level of focus I need to bring to every game and every practice.”

One key, Beasley said, has been reducing sugar in his diet.  

“I would lie if I told you I didn’t eat candy but I definitely don’t eat as much,” he said. “I try to eat more grilled instead of fried, more salads instead of snacks. The day I stopped eating loads of sugar, I started feeling more energetic. There wasn’t a crash at the end. I used to go home and fall, hit the floor, and wake up an hour, two hours later.

“Now I’ve got energy the whole day. I can actually do things, be vibrant in my life without a crash at the end. It’s nice.”

Dwyane Wade mentioned Beasley’s defensive improvement last week, and Beasley said he’s “trying to be more than one dimensional. [In the past], I wasn’t committing 100 percent like I was on the offensive side.”

He drew a charge against Phoenix on Monday and “the reaction from my teammates gives me the joy,” he said.

What’s also apparent is the increase in self-awareness, the greater level of accountability.

“I can say [the journey] hasn’t been hard but I would be lying,” he said. “It’s been tough. I used to always [think], I’m cool. [Critics] just need something to talk about.

“I’m not going to get in trouble no more. You have to take ownership. My maturation process is not done at all, by far. I made personal progress and goals I’ve set for myself. I’m definitely going to keep working towards that. I’m optimistic to see what happens next.”

He admits “my public persona is not perfect at all. Definitely working every day toward fixing it. Right now, I’m happy. I’m blessed with an opportunity to play basketball again with people I know, people I loved, people I grew up with and I’m actually playing for something that means something to the city. I’m playing for Miami, not just for me…. I’m definitely blessed and humbled.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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