Heat nuggets on a Thursday:
▪ Hassan Whiteside not only fueled a Heat victory on Wednesday night, but he did something that had not been done in the NBA in eight years.
Whiteside scored 27 points, corralled 13 rebounds and blocked six shots while also making 10 of his 12 field-goal attempts.
In the process, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Whiteside became the first player in nearly eight years to record at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks and make 80 percent of his field-goal attempts in a game, since Orlando’s Dwight Howard against the Thunder on Feb. 25, 2011.
Howard had 40 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks and converted 16 of his 20 field-goal attempts in that game.
But echoing a point Heat coaches have made in the past, Justise Winslow suggested after Wednesday’s game that it’s not about the numbers with Whiteside.
“To be honest, it wasn’t anything in the box score,” Winslow said. “You could see the effort, you could see the energy. And when we see that, we know we’ve got a good chance in winning. So, for us, we could care less about the boxscore when it comes to Hassan. We can just tell by his energy and his effort what kind of night it’s going to be.”
▪ Players defended by Whiteside are shooting 45 percent this season; those players shoot 48.8 percent overall.
Josh Richardson continues to lead the Heat in field-goal percentage defense against at 39.6, compared to the 45 percent those players shoot overall.
▪ Cast as a power forward earlier in the season, Winslow is thriving in a perimeter role since returning from a 14-game absence because of a knee issue.
He has made all three of his three-point attempts in his three games back and is now at a lofty 43.2 percent for the season on threes (19 for 44).
Spoelstra decided to leave him in the game down the stretch after he hit a three that put Miami ahead five with 3:11 left — with Winslow’s defense also helping fuel that decision.
“I was at the table, about to check in for him,” guard Wayne Ellington said. “When he hit that big three in corner, I said ‘Spo, you sure?’ He agreed with me, said come on back.
“Justise is showing what he’s capable of. He’s improving leaps and bounds and he’s going to continue to get better. He’s still so young. He’s a monster and his defense is very strong right now.”
Spoelstra said Winslow “did a little bit of everything but you could see the versatility down the stretch, just in terms of what we could do defensively. A lot of Swiss Army knife guys that can switch, contain the ball.”
Spoelstra said Winslow is “adaptable” and able to contribute whether cast in a post or perimeter role. “For me, I’m versatile enough to get the job done,” Winslow said.
▪ Not only is Ellington tied for fourth in the NBA in three-pointers with 129, he also has expanded his game.
In one sequence, he made a terrific move off the dribble to set up a Bam Adebayo basket, one of his four assists Wednesday.
“I’ll have to look at that one on film,” Spoelstra said. “I’ve never seen him try that before. As he put the ball on the floor I’m screaming, ‘No.’ And then I think he did a no-look, slap [Pete] Maravich pass that I’ve never even seen in practice before.
“What Wayne has become now is a big time winner. He makes so many winning plays. He’s always at the top of our charts in our defensive effort, winning plays, because he’s always in the right place in the right time. He does a lot of little things. He communicates probably the best that we have of anybody on the team.”
Ellington’s 2.9 rebound average is above his 2.2 career mark.
Defensively, “that’s where I’m proud,” he said. “I’ve tried to lock in this year and it’s showing.”
▪ NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced Thursday, with the Heat having nobody in contention for that. The question is whether Eastern Conference coaches vote Dragic onto the team, with reserves to be announced next week.
“I think if we started the season at the top four of the conference, I think now we’re on people’s radar a little bit more,” Spoelstra said. “They’re so many residuals from winning and a lot of that is recognition and respect around the league. I don’t think anybody was paying attention to us the first three months, and probably rightly so.
“I would say Goran is probably our lone candidate that could be considered as an All-Star. I don’t know if that will be viewed the same with everybody else around the league. I do know Goran is a great player, is a winner, is a champion. And when he plays at his highest level, our team feels that we can beat anybody.”