Heat Check

Dion Waiters’ ‘annoying’ ankle pain is back and ‘it sucks, for real’

The Miami Heat's Dion Waiters (11) drives into the Orlando Magic's Nikola Vucevic, left, Elfrid Payton, top right, and Terrence Ross (31) at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. The Magic won, 116-109.
The Miami Heat's Dion Waiters (11) drives into the Orlando Magic's Nikola Vucevic, left, Elfrid Payton, top right, and Terrence Ross (31) at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. The Magic won, 116-109. TNS

Dion Waiters is annoyed with his left ankle again – and it looks it could become a huge annoyance for the Miami Heat all season.

In Wednesday night’s 116-109 loss to the Magic, the Heat’s starting shooting guard had a relapse with the same ankle that ended his 2017 season with 13 games to go and ultimately helped doom Miami’s playoff push.

Waiters, who decided not to have surgery on the ankle this summer in part because he was a free agent, went back to the locker room Wednesday in the middle of the third quarter to get it re-taped. He soldiered on.

But it’s obvious Waiters will have to deal with the pain all season long – until maybe he can’t anymore.

“It’s just annoying, man. It sucks, for real,” said Waiters, who finished with 15 points, four assists and two steals in a team-high 38 minutes, but shot 7-of-17 from the field and 1-of-6 from three-point range.

“The littlest thing [affects it]. It’s whatever, though.”

Waiters said he tweaked the ankle going to the basket a couple times in the first half.

“Came down awkwardly or whatever,” he said.

Then, after a missed Elfrid Payton free throw midway through the third quarter, Waiters went up for the rebound and came down awkwardly. He grimaced and reached for the ankle, but played on. He was taken out of the game shortly after and headed to the locke room for a fresh tape job.

Ultimately, Waiters said, he tweaked it three times on Wednesday.

“It’s weird,” Waiters said. “Just guarding and trying to get through a screen, a guy kicked my foot and tweaked it a little bit. I’m not going to make it a big thing right now.”

Waiters tried not to Wednesday. He came back from his tape job and scored seven points in the fourth quarter. But the ankle was bothering him.

“Mind over matter,” Waiters said. “I wanted to get the win, so I can’t be limping and do all that type of stuff and show weakness. At the end of the day, that’s not who I am. But we just got to keep strengthening it and whatever, and just take care of it. That’s all I can do.”

Is this going to be a season-long issue?

“Yeah. But like I said, we just got to go about it the best way we can,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s me more strengthening, the little exercises and just getting it strong. Once everything picks up with that, it should be fine.”

Asked if he was going to have x-rays on the ankle back in Miami, Waiters said, “Nah, nah. I’m not going to X-ray it, not right now.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who was annoyed at repeated questions over Waiters’ ankle during training camp, said Waiters would be re-evaluated in Miami.

“But he was moving well after he was retaped,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll just have to see.”

Waiters said in traning camp that had he had surgery he would have been out eight to 10 months.

Waiters said he broke his left ankle in high school. This summer, he said, the Heat gave him two choices as far as rehab.

“I’m not a big fan of surgery so I try to avoid surgery,” Waiters said last month. “I didn’t want to be out 8 to 10 months. I asked for another solution, what’s another way we can go about it? We went that route, just getting it stronger, keep getting treatments every day, all day.”

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talked about what went wrong in Heat’s season-opening loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, Oct. 18, 2017, in Orlando.

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