Miami Heat

Whiteside winner called into question by NBA officiating review

Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside (21) celebrates his buzzer-beating game-winning basket with Goran Dragic (7) while playing the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills on March 28, 2017, in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside (21) celebrates his buzzer-beating game-winning basket with Goran Dragic (7) while playing the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills on March 28, 2017, in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Getty Images

Heat center Hassan Whiteside’s game-winning tip-in against Detroit on Tuesday night, giving the Heat its first regular-season victory at the buzzer in eight years, should never have happened, according to an NBA review of officiating calls in the game.

As part of its daily review of officiating calls in the final two minutes of all games, the league ruled that two fouls should have been called against the Heat on its frenetic final possession.

The NBA said Heat forward Rodney McGruder should have been called for a foul with 5.4 seconds left when he “dislodged” Pistons guard Ish Smith “during rebounding.”

The league said Whiteside should have been called for a foul with 5.0 seconds left, claiming he “grabbed and pulled” Pistons center Andre Drummond’s “jersey, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.”

Whiteside disputed, saying “dislodging happens on every play.”

The NBA said the Heat should have been the beneficiary of two non-calls earlier in the final two minutes, claiming that Drummond committed a three-second violation with 1:38 left and that Detroit’s Aron Baynes should have been called for a foul against James Johnson with 31 seconds left.

Alas, it’s all irrelevant because the NBA does not overturn game results.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he’s generally “aware of NBA two-minute reports, but it neglects the 46 minutes before of all the plays that can happen. … It’s a shame things could get contested that much at the end, but that’s the nature of this game.”

DROUGHT OVER

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Miami hadn’t had a game-winning field goal at the buzzer in the regular season since Dwyane Wade did it against the Bulls on March 9, 2009.

The Heat’s streak of 650 games without a buzzer-beating win was the longest by any NBA team since the Rockets had a 676-game drought from 2005 to 2013.

LeBron James hit a basket at the buzzer for the Heat in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana.

Wade, now a member of the Bulls, was among those who reached out to Whiteside after his winning basket.

“He was happy for me,” Whiteside said.

Former Heat guard Briante Weber, now with Charlotte, also offered congratulations via text.

“It’s a great moment for him to experience,” Spoelstra said. “I told him this [Wednesday] morning. I let him enjoy it for a little bit — that moment’s gone. … He has to be able to do it again and impact in a great way for us to win [Wednesday].”

▪ Knicks guard Derrick Rose (left knee soreness) missed Wednesday’s game but might play Friday at Miami, coach Jeff Hornacek said.

▪ Spoelstra, on the Heat setting a franchise record for three-pointers in a season on Tuesday, with Miami entering Wednesday’s game with 719 for the season: “It never was a goal, so I can’t say that we even emphasized it. We emphasize spacing and ball movement all the time, but we don’t emphasize the threes and how many we’re making. We wanted to be open to whatever the strengths of the team would be, but spacing is a big part of it.

“It never has been [emphasized], even with our Big 3 teams. The only thing we used to say about those teams was the more corner threes Shane Battier got, that meant the ball was moving and we were playing the way we wanted to play.”

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