DENVER --- When his night was done, when Hassan Whiteside had swatted away the last of his 11 blocks (to go along with 19 points and 17 rebounds) in the Heat’s stirring comeback win here at Pepsi Center, he surprisingly implored fans to be supportive, to understand that he’s not slacking when his numbers aren’t jaw-dropping.
When Beno Udrih’s night was done, when he finished dishing out his 11th assist (with no turnovers), he would have had every right to ask Heat fans to appreciate the steadiness in his game, to stop bemoaning the Mario Chalmers trade. But of course, Udrih did not. That would have been highly uncharacteristic of the mild-mannered and well-traveled 33-year-old point guard.
Udrih's big night moved him up to 20th among 93 point guards in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.75 to 1). Chalmers, who was dealt to Memphis in the Nov. 10 trade, is 62nd at 1.86 to 1.
Udrih scored 11 against Denver on Friday, playing 37 minutes in Goran Dragic’s absence, and Spoelstra said “he was absolutely in tuned with the bench and the game plan, where we wanted the ball to go. Very intuitive. Defensively, he's clever. He knows how to funnel guys into the shot-blocker. He keeps himself in great shape.”
Udrih generally doesn’t give the Heat nearly the type of point production Miami could expect with Chalmers. Udrih has averaged 8.8 points per 36 minutes for the Heat, while Chalmers is averaging 17.9 per 36 for Memphis.
Chalmers also is better defensively and averages 2.3 steals per 36 for Memphis, compared with 0.5 for Udrih. Players guarded by Udrih are shooting 45.2 percent this season, compared with 44.2 for Chalmers.
But during their time with their respective new teams, Udrih averages more assists (per 36), fewer turnovers, and is shooting slightly better from the field (43 to 42.2).
Udrih said he was happy for Chalmers for hitting a game-winning shot on Thursday but generally pays no attention to what Chalmers is doing.
“I try to think of the little things that can help a team win,” he said. “I want to be efficient and make sure the ball gets where I want it to go and try to get my teammates open.
“I'm not trying to do anything crazy to put our team in a bad situation. If I do get a turnover, I make sure it's not a bad turnover where they don't get an open layup on the other side.”
Having played for seven teams in 11 seasons, does Udrih ever feel overlooked or underappreciated?
“Maybe sometimes, but the contracts I have had have been easy to trade,” he said. “Sometimes I was thrown into a trade; sometimes I was traded because the other team wanted me.”
On the day of the trade --- which was done to create playing time for Tyler Johnson and lessen the Heat's luxury tax burden by $6 million --- an ESPN report said Miami was trying to deal Udrih to another team. But the Heat assured Udrih’s agent, Marc Cornstein, that the report was inaccurate.
Udrih, 33, and teammate Goran Dragic, 29, both grew up in Slovenia and they have known each other since Udrih was in his late teens.
“I had heard of him and always followed him, but I left Slovenia when I was 20 and went to Israel,” Udrih said. “I never really got to play against him because he was too young to play against me. It's always good to have a countryman on the team so we can communicate in our own language and get a little Slovenian flavor back in our life. We spend a lot of time on the road and in the locker-room.”
Three times in the past four seasons, Udrih has switched jerseys during a season, landing in Orlando by trade in 2012-13, in Memphis after the Knicks waived him the following season, and now, with Miami.
“It's tough,” he said. “If you get traded or moved during the summer, you have plenty of time to move and settle in a new apartment. During the season, it's a little harder. It's still a great livelihood, doing what we love doing. I'm blessed to be here.”
The environment with the Heat most reminds him of San Antonio, the team that drafted him 28th in 2004, after playing seven years in Slovenia, Russia, Israel and Italy.
How so? “Very family oriented, where everybody knows it's about winning.”
### For perspective, consider that in the last 18 years, only one other player (Joakim Noah in February 2013) has produced as many points, rebounds and blocks in the same game as Whiteside delivered Friday.
### The Heat listed Wade as questionable for Sunday's game at OKC. With the Heat given the day off Saturday, Wade was non-committal late Friday night about whether he would play.
He said Bosh "told me to take it off (Friday against Denver) and make sure I get my shoulders back. That made my decision a lot easier. It kind of came down to that pretty much. I have no MRIs or nothing. Just going off how I feel. We'll see after this road trip."
### Goran Dragic, Chris Andersen and Josh McRoberts were ruled out for Sunday.
### According to Elias, the Heat has won a league-high six games in which it trailed by at least 15 points in the second half.
“This is a fighting ball club,” Wade said. “We’ve proven we can fight when we get behind. We’ve also had a few where we’ve lost 15-point leads.”
### The Heat recalled forward Jarnell Stokes from its D-League team in South Dakota, where he averaged 20.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and shot 67.6 percent from the field. Stokes and ex-Heat forward James Ennis were the "prospects" included in the Udrih/Chalmers trade.
Offensive lineman Joe Brown is transferring to be closer to his home in Paramount, Cal.
He appeared in seven games last season, with three starts.
UM still has considerable depth on the line, with every starter returning and a handful of good prospects from last year's recruiting class, led by Tyree St. Louis and Bar Milo.
### The Canes dropped to 13-3 and 2-2 in the ACC with today's 76-65 loss at Clemson, UM's second straight defeat.
Angel Rodriguez shot 1 for 7 on a three-point day, and Ja'Quan Newton --- who had been playing well -- shot 2 for 8, closing with 8 points and three of UM's 13 turnovers.
Davon Reed led UM with 17 points and Sheldon McClellan scored 14.
UM assuredly will drop from its No. 8 position in the rankings.
### Please check back Sunday for the Sunday buzz column with lots of football and other stuff.