Barry Jackson

Heat player lashes out about lopsided free throw disparity in loss to Philadelphia

Dwyane Wade on his 16th and final NBA season

The Heat’s Dwyane Wade speaks about his 16th and final NBA season during All-Star Weekend.
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The Heat’s Dwyane Wade speaks about his 16th and final NBA season during All-Star Weekend.

Five takeaways from the Heat’s 106-102 loss against Philadelphia on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center:

There was an enormous discrepancy in free throws, and Dion Waiters is sick of it.

After watching his team attempt 12 free throws compared to 35 for Philadelphia, Erik Spoelstra said: “I’m not even going to get into it. I told our players not to get into it. It doesn’t look right. [But] we had opportunities. We were up one [with 1:37 left] regardless of the foul discrepancy.”

But the frustration was too much for Dion Waiters to keep bottled in.

“We’re an attacking team; there is no way we should go to the line 12 times,” he said, with Miami making only 6 of those 12. “We get in that paint a whole lot. I got to the free throw line twice. C’mon man. We ain’t going to blame it on that but [35]-12 free throws? Something’s not right.

“We’ve got too many guys on this team that drive. Look it up, as far as us getting in the paint. The numbers are right there. We don’t get to the free throw line at all. Something has to give. It’s very frustrating. Tough, very tough.”

Miami was called for 28 fouls, compared to 13 for Philadelphia.

And Waiters has a theory about the free throw disparity.

“Besides the Hall of Famer over there,” Waiters said, peering toward Dwyane Wade’s locker, “I guess somebody got to make the All Star Game or something to get that respect. Some guys go to the line a lot, some don’t. I don’t know why. I feel it should be equal. It’s got to be equal. I know you all are looking out for some of the players in the league. That’s how it’s going to be portrayed.”

For the season, opponents have shot 54 more free throws than Miami and the Heat has been called for 33 more fouls than the opponent.

What will it take to get to the line more?

“We’re doing our job,” Wade said. “Our job is to attack, put pressure on the defense and be aggressive. There’s nothing more we can do. It’s out of our hands.”

Even with All-Star center Joel Embiid sidelined by a knee injury, Hassan Whiteside was dominated in the first half.

Boban Marjanovic didn’t merely outplay Whiteside; he outscored him 16-0 over the first two quarters.

Whiteside played better in the second half, but again never got in the game in the fourth quarter.

The final numbers: Marjanovic with 19 points, 12 rebounds and one block in 27 minutes. Whiteside had four points (2 for 6 shooting), five rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes.

Marjanovic, who stands 7-3, shot 6 for 6 in that first half and was 6 for 7 for the game from the field, while adding seven free throws on 10 attempts.

“He’s big; he’s unlike anybody in the NBA because he’s so close to the rim,” Whiteside said.

Marjanovic beat him down the court for a dunk on one sequence.

“He played with great energy,” Spoelstra said of Marjanovic. “You can be big and maybe not gifted athletically like everybody else but if you play with a motor and persistence and size, you can be effective and he sure was.

“He was beating us down the court and that’s what’s most disappointing, his two or three run outs on fastbreaks. That shouldn’t happen. That’s not just Hassan. We have five man rules on that. I thought Hassan in the third quarter was much better.”

Whiteside also missed two consecutive free throws in the third quarter, meaning everyone in attendance qualified for a free Frosty at Wendy’s.

Just as the Heat got one player back, it lost another.

Derrick Jones Jr., back from a knee injury, was active for the first time in nine games, and he was needed, with James Johnson leaving the game for good in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

X-rays were negative, but Johnson was ruled out for the game, and there was no immediate word from the Heat about whether the shoulder was separated. Spoelstra said he will have an MRI in Miami on Friday.

“He’s a tough guy,” Spoelstra said. “When he has to come out, you know it’s something.”

Johnson, who had three points in seven minutes, left the court holding his left shoulder as he walked directly to the Heat locker-room.

Jones, who returned a month sooner than expected, entered shortly after Johnson departed and immediately did one of the things he does best: rebounding a Heat miss and hitting a layup.

In the third quarter, he did another thing he does best: dunk (off an alley-oop from Wade). Then he and Wade connected again for another Jones dunk.

“Derrick was great, all those intangible plays, he got gassed in the fourth quarter,” Spoelstra said. “It was great to have him out there.”

Jones closed with nine points and two rebounds in 16 minutes and said he felt no rust.

Goran Dragic, also coming off a knee injury, traveled with the Heat but was inactive. His return is considered imminent.

As it did in recent losses to Sacramento and Golden State, the Heat again had a fourth quarter lead against a good team but couldn’t close.

Miami led 99-98 with 1:35 left but Marjanovic hit two free throws and JJ Redick hit a three after a missed Wade jumper, putting the 76ers up four. Then Waiters missed a three and two 76ers free throws settled matters.

“We weren’t able to get those two necessary stops at the end,” Spoelstra said. “If you want to win, you’ve got to get two big time tough stops against a very good offensive team.”

And so Miami fell to 26-31, one half game behind No. 8 Detroit in the East.

The 76ers had a creative touch in their video tribute to Dwyane Wade.

In a smart move, Philadelphia had former All Star guard Allen Iverson narrate the tribute.

“His toughness was undeniable,” Iverson said. “No matter how many times he hit the floor, he kept fighting.”

Iverson also said he was happy to see Wade’s career celebrated nationally in his final season.

“I was always a big fan of him,” Iverson said. “Still am.”

Wade received a loud standing ovation after the tribute, then treated the fans to an 11-point first half en route to closing with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds.

Wade, who shot 8 for 18, noted before the game that Philadelphia will be meaningful to him because he played his first preseason and regular season game there.

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Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written the Florida Sports Buzz column since 2002.