The most disturbing sight for the depleted Miami Heat in the first half of Wednesday night’s 106-87 loss to the Wizards was that of 7-foot center Hassan Whiteside leaving the floor in pain, holding his left side.
Whiteside, the NBA leader in blocked shots (4.0 per game), was hurt with 6:18 left in the second quarter. After he was stretched out on the floor for a few minutes, he walked to the locker room for evaluation and treatment. He left the game with two points and two rebounds in 11 minutes.
It was another in a series of injuries for the Heat, which has lost five of its last six.
On Wednesday night, after testing his sore shoulder in warmups, Dwyane Wade was a late scratch from the starting lineup. Taking his place was Gerald Green. Wade scored two points in 21 minutes Tuesday against Milwaukee.
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Also remaining out for the Heat were: starting point guard Goran Dragic (calf), out for his fifth straight game; his backup, Beno Udrih (neck), out for the third straight; and forward Chris Andersen (left knee), who is missing his fourth straight.
Coach Erik Spolestra tried to spin the situation positively before the game, saying it gives others a chance to play.
“I like these times,” Spolestra said. “These are the times for a team to test its limits, to grow through these tough moments.”
Jarnell Stokes, a 6-9, 255-pound rookie out of Tennessee, arrived from Sioux City of the NBA Developmental League and entered the game in the second half Wednesday at Washington.
“He played at a high level at Sioux Falls,” Spoelstra said. “He had great development minutes. Now the next step is to be around us. He just has to be ready.”
Stokes had four different stints with the Skyforce this season. The team has gone 13-1 in his 14 games with Sioux City. He has averaged 20.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks, shooting 67.6 from the field.
Stokes was acquired along with Udrih on Nov. 10 in exchange for Mario Chalmers and James Ennis. Shortly before the trade, he appeared breiefly in two games for Memphis, playing just four minutes total.
▪ Spoelstra on the surprisingly tight Southeast Division, where 5 1/2 games separate first place Atlanta (25-17) from fifth-place Charlotte (19-22): “It feels like it should. Every single game matters.”