Barry Jackson

Heat TV analyst with sharp Whiteside criticism; UM, Marlins nuggets

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside pulls down a rebound against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wed., Dec. 13, 2016.
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside pulls down a rebound against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wed., Dec. 13, 2016. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Some Heat, Marlins and UM notes on a Wednesday morning:

• The Heat staff is understandably reluctant to criticize Hassan Whiteside publicly when he has lapses (that would be counterproductive if they did), but TV analyst Ron Rothstein isn’t hesitant.

While praising Whiteside overall, Rothstein told Heat Weekly host Tommy Tighe on 790 The Ticket on Saturday: "I don’t see maximum effort. He coasts a lot. That’s unacceptable."

Rothstein added that in the first quarter sometimes, opponents go the basket "unmolested [and Whiteside] is just standing there."

Whiteside, battling foul trouble, had just 12 points and 8 rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma City, shooting 4 for 11 from the field.

In his defense, Whiteside has generally had a very good year. He leads the NBA in rebounding at 14.7 per game and ranks fifth in blocks at 2.28. Among centers, he’s fifth in scoring at 17.8.

• Per Elias: Russell Westbrook’s 29 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists against the Heat marked the first triple-double for a visiting player in a regular-season game at Miami since Andre Miller had one for the Cavaliers in November 2001. Miami’s streak of 621 games without allowing a triple-double on its home court ranks as the second-longest in NBA history.

The Spurs went 679 home games without permitting one from December 1999 to November 2016, with that record span bracketed by triples-double performances at San Antonio by Jason Kidd and James Harden.

• Look for UM freshman defensive end Joseph Jackson (7.5 sacks) to get more playing time in Wednesday’s Russell Athletic Bowl against West Virginia in Orlando. Trent Harris has been starting at that spot, but Jackson has been taking some first-team reps in practice.

• UM had been optimistic it would snag three-star St. Thomas Aquinas receiver Mike Harley, but he announced Tuesday that he’s sticking with West Virginia. The Hurricanes are pushing hard to add another receiver or two. Three-star prospect Evidence Njoku is the only one committed, though defensive back/receiver Deejay Dallas has said UM indicated it might allow him to play on both sides of the ball.

• UM is very concerned about safety for next season and is eyeing at least one grad transfer. UM loses both starters - Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins.

Incidentally, one UM official counted Carter among the most pleasant surprises this season. He made a significant change in approach, studied film and prepared more and demonstrated maturity, and safeties coach Ephraim Banda has made a difference with Jenkins (who also played well) and Carter. Both are draftable and could help their stock even more with a strong bowl.

• Jenkins, incidentally, told WQAM’s Hurricane Hoteline that one incentive in today’s game is trying to stop people “from saying we haven’t beaten anyone.”

Gus Edwards has remained ahead of Joe Yearby in pre-bowl practices. UM expects that Yearby will turn pro but remains hopeful it can convince Edwards to stay, though he has considered transferring.

• For those who have asked if the Marlins might pursue Pembroke Pines Flanagan alum/right-handed hitting first baseman Mike Napoli (.239, 34 homers, 101 RBI for Cleveland last season), the Marlins and Napoli’s camp have spoken, but Miami isn’t pursuing him at this time.

Marlins executive Michael Hill said the thinking is to play Justin Bour more against lefties; he was 7 for 30 against them last season.

The Marlins likely will add one more right-handed hitter who can play first base, and though they have not re-signed Chris Johnson, they insist that hasn’t altogether been ruled out. Johnson hit .222 with five homers and 24 RBI last season. The Marlins also plan to use catcher JT Realmuto a bit at first base on some days that AJ Ellis catches.

For a look at players the Heat is eyeing in the draft lottery, please click here.... For 12 remarkable things about the Dolphins’ success, please click here... And for our exclusive on Dolphins’ roster shuffling this morning (since subsequently announced), please click here. And please follow me on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz) for quick links and news.

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