Erik Spoelstra on Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters sitting entire fourth quarter against Bulls: ‘Nothing personal’

Paul Zipser of the Bulls is fouled as he tries to drive between Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson of the Heat during Miami’s win in Chicago on Sunday. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Erik Spoelstra didn’t plan on keeping Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters on the bench for the entire fourth quarter Sunday, but when the group he had on the floor started pulling away from the Bulls the Heat coach figured why change.

Goran Dragic and four reserves – Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Kelly Olynyk – played the entire fourth quarter (plus the final 1:34 of the third quarter) and sparked the Heat’s 100-93 victory over the lowly Bulls. The Heat (10-9) outscored Chicago, 29-23, after the Bulls (3-15) pulled within one with 8:32 to play for the 100-93 win.

“We were looking for some kind of energy, some kind of separation,” Spoelstra said. “We understood that it was going to be a 48-minute game. And they played some inspiring basketball, not only in the fourth quarter but in that second quarter, that was what really changed the momentum of the game and got us back into it.”

Whiteside started the game after missing Saturday’s practice because of lingering soreness in his left knee, which was injured in the season opener. And although he and Spoelstra said the injury was not a factor, Whiteside played just 21:19 and was not on the court for the final 16:15, sitting on the bench with heat applied to his knee.

“I was just keeping it warm so if coach needs me I’m ready,” Whiteside said. “I’m fine if I put my jersey on. I basically came to the conclusion that I can play. That day of rest (Saturday) really helped me.”

The surprise was seeing Waiters sitting with Whiteside for the entire period. The Heat’s best clutch shooter had a rough day, scoring seven points and making just two of his 10 shots, but he has had slow starts before and then carried the Heat down the stretch. Waiters came out with 1:34 to remaining in the third quarter and did not return.

“I’m a competitor I want to be out there,” Waiters said. “We got the win. I’m proud of the guys that went out there who finished the game off.

“Any given night it can be anybody. Games like that you want to go out there but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.”

Dragic led the Heat with 24 points followed by Ellington’s 19 and James Johnson’s 15. Tyler Johnson and Olynyk chipped in with 10 each.

The way the Heat started – a franchise low seven points in the first quarter on 2-of-19 shooting – Spoelstra was ready to stick with anything that was working, no matter who was on the floor.

“I was ready to put anybody back in, but that team was playing well,” he said. “I wasn’t going to change it up. It was the most consistent basketball we played all game. There’s nothing personal with anybody in this locker room. It’s about getting the job done. It’s different guys on different nights. Guys have an understanding of what that’s all about.”

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