A six pack of notes early on a Saturday morning:
### The Heat reached the 50-game mark tonight by reaching a new low this season: They’re eight games under .500 for the first time since finishing 15-67 in 2007-08.
And more significantly, they’re now out of playoff seeding, having fallen ½ game behind No. 8 Brooklyn in the East by virtue of the Nets’ win against the Knicks and Miami’s 98-85 loss in San Antonio.
Without Dwyane Wade (who was missing his 15th game) and Hassan Whiteside (ankle), this outcome was predictable. The Heat starting backcourt was again deficient, Mario Chalmers finishing 2 for 8 (7 points) and Shabazz Napier 2 for 7 (four points).
Napier has now shot 9 for 29 in five starts since Wade was sidelined by a hamstring injury. His defense remains a shortcoming, but at least he had no turnovers tonight, and just two (compared with 16 assists) in his past three games. But he did have one absurd moment, when he dribbled out the shot clock without shooting; that was charged as a team turnover.
The Spurs scored 24 points off 17 Heat turnovers --- four by James Ennis.
This was a night more was needed from Chris Bosh, who had a pedestrian 14 points (7 for 18 shooting) and seven rebounds.
There were too many open Spurs threes, a painful flashback to last year’s Finals.
Tyler Johnson led Miami with 18 points, making a case to be signed for the rest of the season. The Heat must make a decision on Johnson before its next game, Monday against the Knicks. He needed an IV for dehydration after the game.
"You love the way he competes," Erik Spoelstra said afterward. "He leaves it all out there."
At 21-29, the Heat fell 1 ½ games behind No. 7 Charlotte (22-27).
### Reaction afterward: Spoelstra: "This loss was disappointing. This road trip was disappointing. We have an ambitious young group of players and when we get fully healthy with our veterans, it's a nice balance of youth and veterans. We'll get to Miami, hopefully get healthy, and get to work on Monday."
On falling out of playoff seeding, Spoelstra said: "We're not going to get overwhelmed with that right now. We were defending well until the middle of the road trip. We need to get back to that, get guys healthy. Even with this disappointing road trip, I still see hope and optimism with this team. But we do need to put together a better result."
Spoelstra had no update on Udonis Haslem's wrist injury. "He could barely move it but said, 'If you need me, I'm available.' Shows what kind of warrior he is."...
Bosh, on falling out of playoff seeding: "I'm looking for anything, any kind of motivation you can get. Use it, take it. We're going to be in a dogfight after the All-Star break. It's going to be difficult. Six through nine, we're all going to be competing. We have to keep our heads, make sure we're trying to improve." ...
Luol Deng, who scored 17, on falling out of playoff seeding: "It's no time to drop your head or feel sorry for yourself. You have to show a strong character."
### Count Gino Torretta among those advocating UM hire former Canes All-American defensive end Kevin Patrick to replace defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, who left for the same job with the Oakland Raiders.
Patrick was d-line coach at USF from 2008 to 2012 and at North Texas last season.
### It’s already UM baseball season; the Hurricanes will hold Fanfest at 4 p.m. Saturday and its alumni game at 6 p.m. at Mark Light Field. (Admission is free.) UM baseball opens a week from tonight (Friday) against Rutgers, then plays at the Gators the following weekend.
“All the polls have us in the top 15, ranked 9 to 15,” Jim Morris said at the team banquet Thursday night. “I feel our hitters are experienced. You will see us score some runs. The ball is jumping a little more. I am really looking forward to what [we can do offensively]. We may have the best bullpen in the country. We are going to play good defense. I’m excited about this club.”
UM staff ace Andrew Suarez is the highest-drafted player to eschew the pros and return to college this season. Suarez was drafted in the second round by the Washington Nationals in June.
### In case you missed it, Rece Davis is replacing Chris Fowler as the host of ESPN’s popular College GameDay. Fowler will focus on his job as ABC/ESPN’s lead college football play-by-play announcer. Davis will give up calling Thursday night games.
### Media squabble of the week: ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd’s unsolicited, unwarranted attack on NBC and former ESPN sportscaster Dan Patrick, who also hosts a national radio host.
Cowherd, in defending colleague Skip Bayless and Jim Rome for their work ethic, said this: “I’ve worked in this business for 35 years. Skip outworks all of us. The hardest working guy when I got into this business was Jim Rome. … That guy grinds it every day. You don’t know anybody that works like him. This radio business I’m in is full of guys who read the sports page and rip crap off. I’m here three hours a day. So is Romey. Dan Patrick doesn’t work as hard as Rome — not even close. That’s why I’ve always respected Romey. He puts the time in. Patrick needs 35 producers to fill a segment.”
Patrick said this in response: “I don’t have 35 producers. I don’t work at the Worldwide Leader. I do have two producers here who did work on Colin’s show, and the one thing that I do is I give credit to my producers on the air. It’s not a one-man show. All the people behind the scenes who help out on Colin’s show — they don’t get any recognition....
"Colin should understand two people who worked with me on SportsCenter and are in management at ESPN actually emailed me yesterday to apologize, saying they were embarrassed that Colin would bring up something like that....
"If you’re criticizing me because of the Rob Gronkowski moment on the podium [when Patrick incorrectly said Sunday that this was Gronk’s second Super Bowl win], you have every right to do it. Guilty as charged. I criticized myself. But you know what Colin, I’m good enough to be able to make a mistake in front of 100 million people. Are you?
“We don’t have ESPN muscles. I had them for 18 years. Leave ESPN. Get out and do what I do. Try it. Try a radio network, maybe a simulcast, maybe a column for Sports Illustrated. Host the Olympics, Football Night in America, and Sports Jeopardy. Try that, and then we can discuss work ethic."
Later in the week, Patrick continued his lengthy response.
“I want to move on from it," Patrick said. "I shouldn’t have even lowered myself to it. Somehow he’s complimenting Skip Bayless and Jim Rome, and he brought me in, and I thought he did a disservice to them. You want to compliment them for their work ethic? Feel free. But it felt like he used them to denigrate me and this show, and I wouldn’t stand for it, and certainly the guys working for me."