Hassan Whiteside returned to the court Monday night as the reeling Heat aimed to snap a three-game losing streak.
Whiteside missed the Heat’s 111-107 loss to the Pistons on Saturday a day after he exited Miami’s loss to the 76ers early while battling a stomach illness.
Whiteside said he had been vomiting since the early morning Friday. He left the Heat bench in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game after playing only 18 minutes and 17 seconds during which he totaled four points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Whiteside did not participate in shootaround Monday morning at AmericanAirlines Arena as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the plan was for him to get as much rest as much as possible before the game.
“He’s feeling better. The plan is for him to come tonight after a little bit of rest and [be] good to go,” Spoelstra said.
The Heat (29-24) needed the boost in the middle, especially on the defensive end.
Miami gave up 60 points in the paint against the Pistons — led by the tandem of Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin — on Saturday, as well as 12 second-chance points, and was outrebounded 49-33.
The Heat is 9-10 this season when Whiteside doesn’t play and the team’s defensive rating with him on the court is a team-best 101.5, but 105.5 without him.
Whiteside has missed 19 games overall this season, adding Saturday’s absence to the 18 he sat out earlier with a left knee bone bruise.
“I agree, but with those two guys, they are big guys Griffin and Drummond, so yeah, they had what, 13 offensive rebounds? That kind of hurt us a little bit, the second chance points,” Goran Dragic said. “But still, we were right there, back-to-back games for us, away from home and we want to be in these kinds of situations, especially the ones that you’re close.”
Spoelstra used his 16th different lineup this season against Detroit starting Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo in the frontcourt with Dragic, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.
That starting five — in its first action on the court together this season — finished plus-1 in 13 minutes.
Spoelstra unveiled the 17th version of it on Monday night with Whiteside starting alongside Dragic, Richardson, Winslow and Olynyk.
“We already try a lot of different starting lineups in practice when we play 5 on 5, so it’s not going to be … new for us,” Dragic said. “We know the system well and we know how we need to play. The only thing is to try to execute with a lot of energy and if we do that we’ll be in good shape.”
The Magic were without top scorer Aaron Gordon, who was ruled out with a hip flexor injury.
Gordon, a 6-9 forward, is averaging a team-best 18.4 points per game and 8.3 rebounds. The Magic also announced that Gordon has been withdrawn from the upcoming All-Star slam dunk contest.
FLY EAGLES, FLY
His left ankle — a month removed from surgery — was in a green-colored cast.
And the crutches were set right next to the bed.
But when it was time to celebrate, Dion Waiters didn’t need them.
Waiters, the Heat’s guard nicknamed ‘Philly Cheese,’ let loose, even hopping around on one leg when he and his hometown of Philadelphia celebrated their long-awaited Super Bowl championship on Sunday night.
The wild celebration was shared on social media by both the Players Tribune and Sports Illustrated shortly after Waiters and his family watched his beloved Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52.
An earlier post showed Waiters lying on his bed speechless and face down while Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz’s go-ahead touchdown with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter was reviewed by officials.
Waiters had season-ending ankle surgery in late December to correct an issue that had been lingering since the end of last season.
“Of course, he was happy,” Goran Dragic said. “I saw the post when they were deciding if that was a touchdown and you could see he was nervous. I was happy for him.”