MIAMI — Less than two weeks ago, Dion Waiters repeated the quote that has become a part of his on-court persona.
“Like I said last year and I’ll say it again, I would rather go 0-for-30 than go 0-for-9 because if you stop shooting them that means you lost confidence,” Waiters said after the Heat’s road win over the Jazz on Nov. 10.
Waiters started that game 4-of-17 from the field, but bounced back to score 10 of the Heat’s final 13 points to help Miami earn the win. But there was no in-game turnaround for the Heat’s starting shooting guard in Sunday’s loss to the Pacers.
Waiters finished the game scoreless on 0-of-10 shooting in 26 minutes. It’s his first scoreless game since joining the Heat in the summer of 2016 and his first scoreless game since he scored zero points on 0-of-4 shooting on March 26, 2016 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I don’t know, just one of them days, one of them games, I guess,” Waiters said after Monday’s practice of his scoreless performance.
When asked why he didn’t keep putting up shots to finish 0-of-30 and live up to his quote, Waiters pointed to the fact that he was pulled with 6:14 remaining in the fourth quarter and never returned.
“I was out of the game, though,” he answered with a grin. “It would have kept going up.”
Waiters wasn’t as aggressive getting into the paint as usual on Sunday, with six of his 10 shots coming from outside of the paint. Waiters is averaging 15.5 drives to the basket per game this season, but only had four drives against the Pacers.
“Dion is at his best when he’s really attacking the paint and putting pressure on the defense,” coach Erik Spoelstra said when trying to explain Waiters’ scoreless performance. “That’s not only on his shoulders. Now, he had opportunities last night as well, where he could be aggressive and he could get better at that. But also the screening to be able to get him into the paint, and to be able to work different multiple layers deeper into the possession and not just settle.”
Waiters also pointed to the team’s screens as a key part of his lack of aggressiveness Sunday.
“We’ve got to go out there and play our part. It’s sometimes tough,” said Waiters, who is averaging 15.1 points on 39.9 percent shooting this season. “We’ve got to go out there setting screens and things like that. How teams are playing us now, if we’re able to hit our guy then it makes everything easier for the guard. If we’re on a string like that, if the big sets the screen and we’ll be able to get down hill and get in the paint, it puts the defense in a position to stop the ball or [Whiteside] to get a dunk or [Kelly Olynyk] to get a three. It’s all about being on that same accord.”
Haslem gets some playing time: Udonis Haslem played his first minutes of the season in Sunday’s loss to the Pacers.
The tri-captain and 15-year veteran played the final 3:26 of the game, entering the contest with the Heat trailing 108-85. Haslem made his only shot to finish with two points.
“It’s always fun playing the game of basketball,” said Haslem, who turned 37 in June. “Every year, obviously every summer it’s the dilemma of do I want to come here and help these guys and don’t play or do I have the opportunity to go somewhere else and play a few minutes, you know what I mean. I always choose to come back and be a part of this organization and with the next generation and the process. But you know I never proved to you guys I couldn’t play. Don’t think that. Trust me. Please don’t think that.”
Sunday’s action marked just the second game Haslem has played in since Feb. 4. He re-signed with the Heat on a one-year, veteran minimum contract worth about $2.3 million this summer.