Barry Jackson

Another Whiteside feat and some eye-opening praise; Dragic rolling

Miami Heat Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside chase a lose ball in the second quarter as they play the Boston Celtics at the AmericanAirline Arena in Miami, Florida, Nov. 28, 2016.
Miami Heat Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside chase a lose ball in the second quarter as they play the Boston Celtics at the AmericanAirline Arena in Miami, Florida, Nov. 28, 2016. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Some Heat notes on a Thursday night:

• Yet another Hassan Whiteside feat dug up by the Elias Sports Bureau:

His 20 points and 17 rebounds in Miami’s win over the Pelicans on Wednesday night marked the 17th time that Whiteside, who was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft, produced at least 20 points and 15 rebounds in a game this season.

Those are the most such games in a single season by a player that was not a first-round draft pick in 31 years, since Bill Laimbeer had 18 games with 20 or more points and at least 15 rebounds for Detroit in 1985-86. Laimbeer was a third-round pick by the Cavaliers in the 1979 NBA draft.

• Considering Heat TV analyst and former coach Ron Rothstein has been critical of Whiteside’s uneven effort in the past, this comment on Fox Sports Sun’s postgame show Wednesday was interesting:

“I’ve seen the most consistent effort every second he’s on the floor in the last four games since he’s been here,” Rothstein said. “All the little things --- stepping up on screens, contesting jump shots on the perimeter... Screening much, much better. Not picking up silly fouls.”

• Goran Dragic was touched by the MVP chants as he was shooting free throws during Wednesday’s game.

“If I’m honest, it was only a few guys and they were saying it with an accent,” Dragic cracked of fellow Slovenians. “I looked around and I said, ‘Man, is D-Wade in the building or what?”

But seriously: "It means something, because the fans, they recognize the hard work."

Erik Spoelstra called it “one of those special moments [of] the fans acknowledging the level of play that he's playing at."

Dragic continues to play like an All-Star, averaging 20.4 points and shooting 42.7 percent on threes.

“I’m comfortable,” Dragic said Thursday. “I finally found a spot that I really enjoy working in, and players and coaches are good to me. I feel like I’m at home. I’m just me.”

Spoelstra offered quite a testimonial after practice: “He really wanted to come here to see if he could push limits and become a different player, a more impactful player on both ends of the court and ultimately become a winner. He’s pushing the boundaries right now and shouldering so much responsibility on both ends of the court. Every single night you’re facing a dynamic guard that’s going to put you in 50, 60, 70 pick-and-rolls, you have to be able to defend those in our system. We put a lot of accountability on him to be able to defend at a high level. But also on the other end, to make a ton of basketball plays for us.”

• Whiteside’s appreciation for James Johnson was obvious this week. Earlier this week, he said Johnson should be a candidate for the All-Defensive team. And on Thursday, he began his interview session by asserting that Johnson is the best isolation defender in the league, ahead of Draymond Green and others.

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