Miami Heat giving Hassan Whiteside some help on offense

As the Jazz swarmed Hassan Whiteside, the Heat found other ways to score. (AP Photo)

As the Jazz swarmed center Hassan Whiteside, the Heat found other ways to score. (AP Photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Miami Heat finally are starting to make teams pay for swarming Hassan Whiteside.

The Heat’s mercurial center was held to nine points and 10 rebounds in Thursday’s 111-110 victory at Utah, numbers significantly below his averages of 17.7 and 15.1 entering the game.

But Goran Dragic (27 points), James Johnson (24) and Wayne Ellington (17) picked up the slack.

And much of it was from where Whiteside likes to operate – the paint. The Heat (7-12) had 64 paint points, their second highest total of the season behind the 74 they posted in their season-opening win in Orlando.

“Goran Dragic putting the ball on the floor, James Johnson being aggressive. …” coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked how Miami had so much success close to the basket.

“And that’s a good defense to be able to do that against. Sometimes you need great players to make bigger plays against a good defense. That’s what those guys were doing. Being a little bit more organized offensively, guys are getting a little bit more confident in their roles and what we’re trying to do, simplify a little bit. But mainly get to our spots, get organized and get to actions that guys can feel comfortable with.”

Whiteside did not record a block, snapping a streak of 47 consecutive games with a blocked shot. Still, he was not worried about his numbers.

“It’s all good man, we got that win,” he said. “Their whole team was going ‘Wayne, Wayne.’ I don’t got to score if Wayne is shooting like that.

“Their team was coming to me. I don’t know what the scouting report – ‘let’s all run to Whiteside’ – or what it was. I’m like, just go dunk the ball. Go lay it up. If they block one or two who cares.”

While most of Ellington’s points were from the perimeter (he was 3-of-5 on three pointers), Dragic and Johnson has success inside and out. Johnson threw a variety of moves on the Jazz, including a rim-rattling dunk from the half-court offense with 1:44 remaining to give the Heat a 109-105 lead.

“We knew just put Gobert in the pick and roll, they weren’t going to leave me, and (said) ‘go dunk on them,”’ Whiteside said about Utah’s 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert.

Johnson had one thing on his mind on that crucial throw down.

“I didn’t see nothing other than the rim,” he said. “I felt like I jumped higher than (Gobert) that time. You know he’s a great shot-blocker.”

[Stat of the Week: Miami’s offense heating up]

[Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 111-110 victory over the Utah Jazz]

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