Miami Heat

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford: Miami Heat has more career floppers

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside referred to the Heat-Hornets series as “the flop-offs” Tuesday when speaking to reporters.
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside referred to the Heat-Hornets series as “the flop-offs” Tuesday when speaking to reporters. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Less than 48 hours after a frustrated Hassan Whiteside complained about the officiating in Miami’s Game 4 loss to Charlotte and went as far as calling the first-round series with the Hornets “the flop-offs,” the 7-foot center was blocked Wednesday morning by his team’s media relations department from answering any questions related to the subject.

“We’ve got no comment on the officiating,” a team spokesman said before Whiteside followed the company line with a “no comment” response.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford, however, did have something to say regarding Whiteside’s initial comments on flopping.

“I watched the [game] films really closely,” Clifford said after his team practiced Wednesday morning at AmericanAirlines Arena. “If you want to get into career flopping between the two rosters, it wouldn’t be close. … We don’t have anybody that flops. We haven’t had flopping issues all year.”

Eight players received warnings in the regular season for flopping league-wide, but none played for the Hornets or Heat. Celtics forward Marcus Smart has been the only player in the postseason to get fined for a flop. He was hit with a $5,000 penalty after doing it in Game 3 against the Hawks.

The Heat, which averaged the fourth-fewest fouls in the NBA in the regular season (18.3), was called for 26 personal fouls in Game 4 and had 18 more than Charlotte in the series entering Game 5. Through its first four playoff games, the Hornets are averaging 30.5 free throws per game in the postseason, more than any other team.

“The NBA [officiating] reports — they have ’em,” Clifford said of the Heat. “I wouldn’t say that if you read those reports that they could have any complaints about the officials. Neither do we by the way. But they certainly shouldn’t.”

Asked pregame Wednesday how he could do a better job defending Hornets guards Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, who have driven to the basket and drawn plenty of fouls on Miami initiating contact, Heat point guard Goran Dragic snapped: “I do that, but I don’t get calls.”

“I think the best thing [to do] is to know what [they are] going to do [before they do it],” Dragic continued. “We know [Walker is] going right every time. The most important thing is not to be on his side. You need to receive him with your chest. Then it's going to be tougher for him."

JOHNSON IN UNIFORM

Heat combo guard Tyler Johnson was in uniform Wednesday for the first time since before undergoing left shoulder surgery on Feb. 3.

“For the last month we have been closely monitoring his pain,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “If he went one day and there was pain the next day, then we would take two days off. It got to the point where he was able to do two days in a row, then three, and then four. Basically, it’s been over a week and he hasn’t had any pain and he’s been able to do virtually everything.”

Though Spoelstra said the Heat would have liked to give Johnson another week’s worth of full-contact work, he passed a full-scale one-on-one against teammate Briante Weber on Wednesday morning in front of Spoelstra and team trainer Jay Sabol. They agreed he could play but would be used “in an emergency situation.”

Light Up the Night at the Miami Heat for Game 5 of the NBA Playoffs against the Charlotte Hornets.

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