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 Friday 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 humble veteran point guard.
Whiteside’s third career triple-double and Udrih’s craftiness — combined with timely offense from Chris Bosh and others — helped spearhead Miami’s rally from 18 down to beat the Nuggets, 98-95, in the absence of injured Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic.
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. Whiteside had five blocks in the third quarter, when Miami sliced a 16-point halftime deficit to two.
“I see a lot of NBA players getting triple doubles with assists. Ain’t nobody doing it with blocks,” Whiteside said. “I hope the fans enjoyed it. A lot of people, I don’t put numbers up they like, they say, ‘Hassan is lazy.’ But I want somebody to support me through my ups and downs. I was going through a lot with tendinitis.”
Whiteside said he told coach Erik Spoelstra before the game that his sore knee was OK and not to limit his minutes: “My exact words were: ‘I’m back to the athletic Hassan.’”
Bosh, who scored 24 points — including the go-ahead turnaround jump shot with 55 seconds left — said “the difficult part of seeing stuff like that [Whiteside’s enormous stat line] is that you set the bar high, you expect that from him because we know what he is capable of. When he is locked in like he was tonight, they couldn’t get a shot off anywhere. They kept coming in to challenge him; I don’t know why. He was there every time.”
As for Udrih, his 11 assists and no turnovers 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. 11 trade, is 62nd at 1.86 to 1.
Udrih scored 11 points Friday, playing 37 minutes in Dragic’s absence, and Spoelstra said “he was absolutely in tune 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.”
Udrih generally doesn’t give the Heat nearly the type of point production Miami could expect with Chalmers. Udrih 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. But Udrih averages more assists (per 36), fewer turnovers, and is shooting slightly better from the field (43 to 42.2).
Udrih said he pays no attention to what Chalmers is doing.
Udrih’s approach? “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.
Udrih, 33, and teammate Goran Dragic, 29, both grew up in Slovenia and have known each other since Udrih was in his late teens.
“I had 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.
▪ With the Heat given the day off Saturday, Wade was non-committal late Friday night about whether he would be available for Sunday’s game at Oklahoma City.
“Chris [Bosh] told me to take [the Denver game] off and make sure I get my shoulders back,” Wade said. “That made my decision a lot easier. I have no MRIs [scheduled]. Just going off how I feel.”
▪ 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.
▪ Miami recalled forward Jarnell Stokes from its D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Sunday: Heat at Thunder
When/where: 7 p.m., Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City.
TV/radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 790; WAXI 710 (Spanish).
Series: Miami leads 8-7.
Scouting report: Behind 28 points from Dwyane Wade, the Heat beat the Thunder, 97-95, on Dec. 3. Wade is listed as questionable with shoulder injuries that sidelined him Friday in Denver. Goran Dragic (calf), Chris Andersen (knee) and Josh McRoberts (knee) are out.