Whiteside: “I want to be in the Defensive player of the year conversation’’
The Miami Heat’s frustration boiled over in its most visible manner with less than a minute remaining in a 105-90 loss to the Orlando Magic on Tuesday.
With 40.5 seconds left and the Heat down 103-90, Whiteside stood up from his spot about halfway down Miami’s bench and walked into the locker room.
Whiteside did not address the media after the game. The Heat (9-14) closed its locker room before the center arrived and a team spokesperson said Whiteside was shooting in the upstairs practice facility at AmericanAirlines Arena. Whiteside didn’t play a minute in the fourth quarter.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said he didn’t receive an explanation from Whiteside and didn’t appear to confront the 27-year-old as he headed to the locker room.
“Probably extremely upset like we all are,” Spoelstra said at his postgame news conference in Miami when he was asked whether he’d seek an explanation from Whiteside.
Dwyane Wade said he didn’t see Whiteside get up to leave, but tried to give an explanation inside the locker room after the loss.
“I don’t know,” the guard said. “He had to go to the bathroom.”
The Heat unraveled in the second half against the Magic (12-12) after taking a four-point lead into halftime. Orlando outscored Miami, 30-12, in the third quarter to turn a close game into a blowout and the Heat never could climb back ahead in the fourth quarter. Whiteside played less than eight minutes in the second half after leading Miami with 12 points in the first half.
Whiteside started strong. He made all five of his shot attempts in the first quarter and went into the second with 10 points. He then made his only shot attempt in the second to go into halftime with 12 points, six rebounds, one block and one steal in 16 minutes.
In the second half, Whiteside only even attempted one shot. He grabbed three rebounds, dished out an assist and blocked two shots to finish the game with 12 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, a steal and an assist, but posted a minus-9 in the third quarter, leading Spoelstra to keep the center on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. Whiteside has now sat out the entire fourth quarter in five of the last six games.
The Heat has lost nine of its last 13 games and kicks off a six-game road trip Friday against the Phoenix Suns.