Heat guard Dwyane Wade missed Friday’s late game against the Kings with neck and back soreness and said it’s “very unlikely” he will play Saturday at Portland.
Wade sustained the injury when he fell hard to the floor late in Wednesday’s Lakers game, and coach Erik Spoelstra said there’s “no way to know” how long he will be out.
“It got worse [Friday],” Wade said. “[From] the impact I made when I hit the floor, my lower back is real sore. And my neck from my head hitting the floor is real sore. It’s hard to walk normal, and it’s hard to look left or right fast. …
“There’s nothing I can do except take it one step at a time, because it’s not just my back. It’s my back and my neck. [It’s] equally bad [with both]. When I feel like I can move around, do things I need to do, I will jump back out there.”
Spoelstra said Wade is walking “like Frankenstein” and what happened to Wade is “very similar to the fall” that former Heat guard Beno Udrih took in mid-January. The ensuing neck soreness sidelined Udrih for four games.
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Friday’s game was the seventh Wade has missed this season. Gerald Green started in Wade’s absence.
KARL ON WHITESIDE
Before the game, Kings coach George Karl surprisingly said of Heat center Hassan Whiteside: “I think he is a great off-the-ball shot-blocker. I don’t think on the ball he’s that great” of a shot-blocker.
Whiteside’s response? “I don’t really care what George Karl is thinking. My job is to make my coach and team happy. I let my game speak for itself. …Everyone is entitled to their opinion.”
Whiteside noted the majority of his seven blocks against the Lakers were on-the-ball, against players he was defending.
Whereas Josh Richardson’s offensive emergence has been sudden, including 53.5 percent shooting on three-pointers since the All-Star break, fellow rookie Justise Winslow’s offensive growth has been more gradual.
After shooting 41.8 percent and averaging 5.7 points before the All-Star break, Winslow was at 45.8 percent and averaging 8.4 points since.
On jumpers, he has gone from shooting 28.4 percent before the break to 37.5 percent (30 for 80) since. He had 66 assists and 67 turnovers before the break, but 44 and 24 since.
Winslow, 20, said he is “very” encouraged by the growth, especially in his mid-range game.
“I wish I could have been this productive earlier in the season, but I’m learning,” he said.
But his three-point game needs to improve. He’s hitting just 26.2 percent of his threes this season (28 for 107) and is 5 for 18 since the break.
“The key for this season will be getting the corner three more consistent,” Winslow said. “Take them within the offense. They don’t really encourage the other threes.”
Spoelstra loves Winslow’s diligence and commitment and said that’s “why it’s inevitable he’ll get better in all facets of his game.”
Heat veterans have embraced these rookies.
“It’s cool; when I got here, Eddie Jones watched me grow [and] now I can maybe be a part of these young guys’ growth,” Wade said. “I haven’t been a part of this since I’ve been here.”
Who has been in their ears this most? Winslow cites Chris Bosh and Wade.
“CB is kind of the voice and the leader of our team,” Winslow said. “He sits right next to me in the locker room, texts me after each game. He got on Josh and me the other day because we weren’t the first ones in the gym. The veteran guys beat us in the gym.”
And with Wade, “we’ll just be in the locker room … and there will be footage or a game on the TV and he’ll ask me how I would defend it.”
Richardson said his biggest mentors have been Luol Deng, Goran Dragic and Bosh.
▪ The Heat was buoyed at Friday’s practice by the presence of assistant coach Keith Smart, who is in remission after receiving treatment for a rare form of cancer in his jaw.
Smart has been in San Francisco receiving treatment since stepping away from the team on Jan. 26. He said he expects to rejoin the coaching staff by the playoffs.
Saturday: Heat at Trail Blazers
When/where: 10 p.m., Moda Center, Portland, Ore.
TV/radio: SUN; WAXY 790; WAQI 710 (Spanish).
Series: Blazers lead 34-20.
Scouting report: Dwyane Wade is doubtful for Saturday’s game. The Heat beat Portland, 116-109, on Dec. 20. Chris Bosh scored 29, Wade added 18 and Hassan Whiteside had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks.