Hassan Whiteside’s swollen right ankle kept him out of Friday night’s lineup as the Heat hoped to build on a recent revival when it met the Bulls at the United Center.
And whether Whiteside also sits out Saturday’s home game against Detroit hinges on how he responds to treatment of a right ankle sprain.
“Depends on how I feel [Saturday],” said Whiteside, who also sat out the late stages of Wednesday’s 109-106 come-from-behind victory at Brooklyn. “I’ve had ankle injuries before. If it’s something I can play through, I’ll normally play through it. But if it’s something I can’t play through and it’s hurting the team when I’m out there, that’s kind of what it is.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was non-committal while not ruling out a Saturday return.
“Hassan’s ankle is swollen; he won’t play [Friday night] and he’ll just do treatment,” Spoelstra said following a Friday morning shootaround at the United Center. “We’ll evaluate him day to day. … We’ll see. We’ll evaluate him when we get back to Miami. Hopefully, he can get in a lot of treatment [on Friday].”
Whiteside, who was snubbed for an All-Star Game reserve spot earlier this week, is second in scoring (16.9 points) on the Heat and leads the team with 13.9 rebounds per game. He averaged 20 points in two previous games against Chicago.
Even with Whiteside sidelined, the Heat still looked to extend a five-game winning streak as it met the dysfunctional Bulls and ex-teammate Dwyane Wade.
Friday’s lineup juggling by the Heat — which included the signing of Okaro White to a second 10-day contract — took a back seat to backbiting Wade and other Bulls that broke into the open on social media this week.
The Bulls, who had won two in a row before Wednesday’s 119-114 loss to Atlanta, were roiling following comments from Wade and teammate Jimmy Butler that criticized younger players for a lack of commitment. It was followed by retorts against both from point guard Rajon Rondo.
The Bulls tried to clear the air prior to their Friday shootaround with a 75-minute team meeting that included coach Fred Hoiberg, executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman.
Chicago reportedly fined all three players, while Hoiberg pulled Wade and Butler from the starting lineup.
“It was my decision,” Hoiberg said prior to the game.
Spoelstra, meanwhile, brushed off a question seeking his thoughts on Chicago’s soap opera battles on Twitter and Instagram.
“I have no thoughts about it,” he said. “What I’ve seen is a team in the No. 8 [playoff] spot, they have a very talented team and two players that are generating more than 60 percent of their offense. One of them we know very well.”
Friday’s signing of White means he’ll officially stay put into early February. Originally signed on Jan. 17 after playing with Miami’s D-League affiliate, the 6-8 power forward from Florida State had averaged 3.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 16.4 minutes in four games.
He had 10 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes on Wednesday at Brooklyn.
“You control what you can control and that’s his play on the court,” Spoelstra said. “Whether he’s going to get minutes or not, he contributed and that’s a great lesson for all young players. So we’ll extend another 10 days, and he’ll just keep on moving forward.”
Friday’s game was the finale of the three-game season series. The Bulls beat the Heat 98-95 on Nov. 10 in Miami and 105-100 on Dec. 10 at the United Center.
Saturday: Pistons at Heat
When/where: 7:30 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Arena.
TV/radio: SUN; WAXY 790, WAQI 710 (Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 53-50.
Scouting report: Detroit won both of the previous meetings this season rather easily, and the Heat could be without center Hassan Whiteside (sprained right ankle). … After starting the season 1-8 on the road, Detroit is 8-7 in its past 15 road games. … The Pistons haven’t played since Monday.