Barry Jackson

What the Miami Heat is doing better than any team in the NBA

Miami Heat forward Josh Richardson (0) shoots a three-pointer against New Orleans in December 2017. The Heat’s clutch three-point shooting has been the best in the league.
Miami Heat forward Josh Richardson (0) shoots a three-pointer against New Orleans in December 2017. The Heat’s clutch three-point shooting has been the best in the league.

A few Heat notes on a Thursday, with Goran Dragic hoping to play against visiting Sacramento on Thursday night but Tyler Johnson still out with an ankle injury:

▪ The Heat has done a lot of things well in moving seven games above .500.

But there’s one thing it has done better than any team in the league, by far:

Shooting three-pointers late in close games.

Even after missing two such shots late against Houston on Monday, Miami is shooting 47.2 percent on clutch threes: 25 for 53. The NBA defines clutch as the final five minutes of games with a margin of five points or fewer.

The next-best three-point shooting team in the clutch? The Knicks at 38 percent.

By comparison, Golden State is shooting 33.3 percent on clutch threes (20 for 60) and Houston 34.7 percent (17 for 49).

Josh Richardson is 5 for 9 on clutch threes, injured Dion Waiters 7 for 13, Goran Dragic and Wayne Ellington 3 for 8.

▪ Two teams can regret giving up on Hassan Whiteside: Sacramento, which waived him in July 2012 (two years after drafting him 33rd overall), and the Memphis Grizzlies, who released him twice — Oct. 22, 2014 (28 days after signing him) and Nov. 22, 2014 (two days after signing him).

The Heat signed him Nov. 24, 2014, and, well, you know the rest.

Kings coach Dave Joerger, who was Memphis’ coach at the time the Grizzlies cut him twice, said Thursday morning that he’s happy for Whiteside and explained why Memphis released him.

“It was tough on us because with the contract positions and rosters numbers we had, and we had Pau Gasol and Kosta [Koufos], experienced guys in the NBA. In today’s game, it’s pretty difficult to play him and Marc Gasol together, even though Marc can shoot the three. The game’s being played with one big and four guys — you are either a shooter or a playmaker. You must be one or the other.”

Does he ever wonder what might have been with Whiteside in Memphis?

“I’m over our win the other night,” Joerger said. “Coaches see a little bit shorter views.”

But… “I’m happy for all those guys — James [Johnson], Wayne [Ellington], Hassan — that the Heat rewarded them for their performance and their work ethic. They’re a great organization. You cheer for those guys. I’m fired up for them and their family. Hassan is a sweetheart human being. Really enjoyed being around him.”

Joerger was fired by the Grizzlies on May 7, 2016, despite guiding them to the playoffs all three of his seasons, then joined the Kings as coach two days later.

▪ After some growing pains defensively earlier in the season, Heat rookie Bam Adebayo isn’t merely a decent defender.

“He’s much more than that,” coach Erik Spooelstra said. “Very good mind and terrific work ethic.”

Players defended by Adebayo are shooting 44.9 percent, compared with 48.1 overall. By comparison, players defended by Whiteside are shooting 46.5, and Kelly Olynyk 49.4.

▪ One of the ways the Heat shrewdly and legally is managing the remaining NBA days for Derrick Walton Jr. (six remaining) and Derrick Jones Jr. (nine left) was by having them practice alone — just the two of them — on Wednesday.

As a result, that didn’t count as a day of NBA service time as part of their two-way contracts that limit the number of days they can spend in the NBA this season.

“It was a little workout; being able to perfect our craft is a great thing,” Jones said.

The idea of giving Jones a standard contract has been considered internally, but the Heat likely will wait through the Feb. 8 trade deadline before making a move.

As far as following all the steps necessary to conserve his days — such as practicing alone or not traveling with the team back from a road trip — Jones said: “I just do what I’m told.”

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