Whiteside thinks he should get more late-game touches
Hassan Whiteside matched a career-high with 32 points on Tuesday night.
He grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked five shots and played a career-high 46 minutes and 59 seconds. In the process, he took an elbow to his rib cage and then required three stitches after the game above his right eye to close a cut from another elbow earlier in the game.
So, naturally, Whiteside was in no mood to hold back his opinions after the Heat dropped a heartbreaking 136-130 double overtime decision to the Orlando Magic.
“No disrespect to the Magic or anything, but that was the most disappointing loss of the season in my opinion,” Whiteside said before he really got warmed up. “Because we had so many chances to win that game.”
Chances, Whiteside would later say, is what he personally wanted more of.
After scoring 27 points and making 12 field goals on 19 attempts in regulation, Whiteside took only three shots in the two overtime five-minutes periods. He made his first two shots in the first overtime and missed his last – an eight-foot hook shot – on the Heat’s first possession of the second overtime.
“They say I'm the franchise player. I would think I should get more,” Whiteside responded when asked if he thinks he gets enough touches late in games. “But, I don't know, man. I don’t think so to be honest. Coach is going to coach.”
Overall, Whiteside took third-most shots on the team (6) after he came off the bench with 7:25 to play in regulation. He only made two of those shots – one on an alley-oop dunk and the other on an eight-foot hook shot.
Justise Winslow (4 of 9) and Tyler Johnson (4 of 7) took more shots than Whiteside down the stretch. But Johnson was red-hot, scoring a career-high and Heat franchise-record 32 points off the bench, making 13 of his 20 shots overall.
Whiteside shot a team-high 22 times on Tuesday night and leads the team with 403 field goal attempts. He’s shooting 54.8 percent for the season, but is only shooting 53.2 percent from the free throw line.
Where Whiteside’s argument for more touches holds more weight is when you look at the big picture.
Although he leads all players in paint touches (7.4 per game), Whiteside ranks 27th among all centers in the NBA in overall touches with 44.5 per game.
He also ranks eighth on the Heat in fourth quarter field goal attempts (2.4).
In clutch situations (when the score differential is five points or less with five minutes or less in regulation), Whiteside ranks third on the team in field goal attempts (10 of 18) behind Tyler Johnson (9 of 20) and Goran Dragic (12 of 28) and just ahead of Winslow (6 of 16), who has played in 16 fewer games than Whiteside has.
The reason the Heat’s offense may not have gone to Whiteside as much down the stretch Tuesday was fatigue. Whiteside admitted after the game he was gassed.
“I was feeling it,” Whiteside said. “I know the guys were feeling it. I’m going to really feel it tomorrow. So, I iced up as much as I can. We’ve got practice [Wednesday].”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he would have liked to get Whiteside more rest earlier in the game. Spoelstra stuck with the same five-man lineup for most of the final few minutes of regulation and overtime. Whiteside played all but 24 seconds of both overtimes.
“I would have loved to have given him some minutes during one of those timeouts,” Spoelstra said. “I thought it got a little bit long at the end, but I just wasn’t able to do it. The early part of that fourth quarter that second unit was playing great. It really gave us a burst of energy, and we were able to take a lead, but then Orlando came right back.”