The scouting report is changing daily now for Heat center Hassan Whiteside.
It’s time to add spin move in the post for a jumper off the glass to his list of possible offensive options.
Whiteside showcased that surprising shot as well as jumpers, hook shots and more Sunday in the Heat’s 83-75 victory against the Boston Celtics, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
In the latest monumental step of his evolution as a player, Whiteside carried the Heat offensively in the team’s second game without Dwyane Wade.
Whiteside finished with 20 points, including 10 consecutive points between the third and fourth quarters, and also had nine rebounds and three blocks.
He was 10 of 17 from the field in less than 30 minutes and seemingly became the Heat’s primary offensive option during the game’s most critical stretch.
“Every day is a new surprise,” said Heat power forward Chris Bosh, who had 18 points.
The Heat led by 13 points at halftime but lost most of that lead in the third quarter with Whiteside on the bench. He entered the game with 4:22 remaining in the quarter and quickly made a turnaround hook shot to give the Heat a four-point lead. The Celtics tied the score, but Whiteside then reeled off 10 points in a row.
During the run, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra began drawing up plays for Whiteside in the team huddle.
“We were trying to run a little bit of the offense through the post just to slow it down a little bit and settle us,” Spoelstra said. “They were really defending our pick-and-rolls and flattening us out on that for a few minutes, so we went to something else just to change the menu, and he responded well. And it also was just a good response for our team.”
On Friday, Spoelstra kept Whiteside on the bench in the third quarter a little too long, and the Dallas Mavericks ran away with the game. To his credit, the Heat’s coach didn’t make the same mistake twice. Whiteside’s defensive presence stymied the Celtics’ momentum and offensively Whiteside carried the team during another typical third-quarter funk.
The Heat (21-26) was outscored 28-17 in the third period. Whiteside led the Heat with six points in the period, and Bosh had five. The Heat led 61-59 to begin the final period, and Whiteside’s spinning bank shot gave the Heat a 67-59 lead with 9:45 left in the game.
“Didn’t know he had that,” Bosh said. “I don’t think he knew he had that.”
Bosh followed with a put-back layup on a missed jumper by Whiteside, and the Celtics (16-30) never seriously threatened the lead again. Bosh was 6 of 19 from the field, 5 of 7 from the free-throw line and had seven rebounds.
After struggling Friday against Dallas and again in the first half against the Celtics, Heat guard Norris Cole settled himself in the second half at TD Garden and made a clutch 21-foot jumper with 1:07 left to ice the game.
Heat guard Tyler Johnson, playing on a 10-day contract, made a case for himself, finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
“To get their opportunities, they have been really dedicated to the player development, and the way the season is going, you have to play, boom,” Spoelstra said. “Now you have to do it when there’s duress in the third quarter, and I loved to see the young guys respond the way they did. They were fearless.”