A few quick items on a Thursday night:
### The Heat’s 114-88 loss in Cleveland tonight dropped Miami to 8th in the East (both Miami and No. 9 Boston are 34-41), one half game behind the Nets. So the inevitable was mathetically assured tonight: The Heat won't have a winning record in its first season post-LeBron.
But the Heat owns the tiebreaker with both the Nets and the Celtics and has an easier remaining schedule, in terms of games against teams with winning records.
Dwyane Wade said his bruised left knee, which happened when he fell and banged his knee against the floor, “could have been worse. I knew I was in trouble on my way down.”
Wade, who left for good when the injury occurred in the second quarter, wasn’t sure about his availability for Saturday’s game in Detroit. “We will see when Saturday comes. Hopefully it gets better.”
He said on Instagram after the game: “God is good because it could have been a lot worst. I pray that I can join my team at some point on this road trip because we are still in this playoff hunt. Keep believing...”
Erik Spoelstra's take: “He bruised his knee. It looked like it was a lot worst. Slid awkwardly and banged his knee against the floor. Looks like he slid on a wet spot on the floor. He was able to do treatment and ice the whole second half. We’ll see how he feels when we get to Detroit.”
One highlight: Hassan Whiteside had 17 points (8 for 11 shooting) and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.
Whiteside "came out to compete,” Spoelstra said. “Didn’t necessarily mean he was doing everything right. He was making plays. Very physical game and he responded well.”
But the Heat needed more from Goran Dragic, who scored 11 and missed 7 of his 10 shots.
The Heat allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 50 percent; LeBron had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
### Valiant UM effort tonight, but ultimately one that fell short, in Miami’s 66-64 overtime loss to Stanford in the NIT Final.
Down by 13 early in the second half, UM rallied to force overtime, then went ahead by three in OT. But Miami was victimized by a highly questionable foul call, sending Stanford’s Chesson Randle to the line with 3.4 seconds left. He hit two free throws to put Stanford ahead by one.
“I wonder if those last two were freebies,” UM assistant coach Chris Caputo said on WQAM afterward.
Miami got the ball with under two seconds left but Sheldon McClellan had to double clutch and missed a contested three at the buzzer. McClellan had put UM ahead with a driving dunk with 1:51 left in OT, UM’s first lead since 17-16.
UM, which played without Tonye Jekiri and Angel Rodriguez, shot just 36 percent (21 for 58).
Without Jekiri, the ACC’s leading rebounder, Miami was outrebounded 45-39. McClellan closed with 17 points (5 for 16 shooting) and Davon Reed 16.
Jim Larranaga, speaking afterward, called the NIT run “rewarding. When we started this season, we had nine players that had never worn a Miami uniform before. We had a lot of adversity with injuries. Our guys showed a lot of resiliency and fight in them. I’m very, very proud of their efforts.”
UM, which closed 25-13, has a bright future, with every player having eligibility remaining except Joe Thomas. He will essentially be replaced by Oklahoma State transfer Kamari Murphy, a 6-9 forward who sat out this season.
“We’ve been hardened as the year went on and we showed that in the second half,” Caputo said.
### The Dolphins signed linebacker Spencer Paysinger primarily because of his special teams acumen and ability to play multiple linebacker positions. But Paysinger, who played his first four seasons with the Giants, indicated he expects to get a chance to compete for a starting job.
Paysinger joins Kelvin Sheppard, Chris McCain (who coaches really like), Jordan Tripp and perhaps a high draft pick in the competition for the third starting linebacker job alongside Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins. It’s possible the Dolphins also might add another veteran.
Paysinger had 10 of his 14 career starts in 2013, and Pro Football Focus rated him 25th among 55 inside linebackers that season. He played fewer than 90 defensive snaps last season.
### Few quarterbacks have had as meteoric a drop as Josh Freeman’s in the past two years. After auditioning him today, the Dolphins gave him a one-year deal and will give him a chance to win their third string quarterback job (a gig that might not even be deemed necessary).
Once on the verge of becoming a quality longterm starter, Freeman unraveled in 2013. Tampa released him after he produced passer ratings of 67.9, 56.1 and 54.5 in his first three games that season.
Minnesota signed him and he was dreadful in a Monday night game against the Giants, completing 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and a 40.6 rating. He signed with the Giants April 21 of last year but was cut May 30 and essentially hadn’t been heard from since, until today.
### Freeman was the only player immediately signed from an audition that included several other players, including receivers Geraldo Boldewijn and Thomas Mayo and (according to the National Football Post), former Buccaneers linebacker linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud.