Good Heat news is Hassan Whiteside is getting closer to a return. Bad news is Justise Winslow, Whiteside will miss Friday’s game vs. Hornets

MIAMI — Injuries derailed the Heat last season. And injuries are becoming a problem this season, too.

The Heat (13-14) will be without center Hassan Whiteside and forward Justise Winslow on Friday when they face the Hornets in Charlotte. Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) and Winslow (left knee strain) will not make the trip as they recover from their injuries.

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, right, stands with teammates during the singing of the National Anthem before the start of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Their next chance at a return will come Saturday when the Heat return home to face the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back set.

Whiteside and Winslow are part of a long Heat injury list that also includes Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery) and Okaro White (left foot surgery). McGruder and White are out indefinitely.

With those four players unavailable and Tyler Johnson out with a migraine in Wednesday’s loss, the Heat used a short seven-man rotation in the second half against Portland. The Trail Blazers outscored the Heat 48-25 over the final 20 minutes and 10 seconds of the game. Was fatigue a factor down the stretch?

“I don’t know,” center Kelly Olynyk said. “I wasn’t that tired down the stretch. But yeah, maybe we made a little bit of mistakes because of that. We only played seven guys in the second half, huh? But we got to be able to stick with it and come out with a win in that situation.”

The good news is that Whiteside, who will miss his eighth consecutive game and his 13th game of the season Friday due to a bone bruise on his left knee, is inching closer to a return. After being evaluated Wednesday night by team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick, Whiteside was cleared to start working on the court.

Whiteside didn’t go through the entire practice Thursday, but he participated in drills with a bulky brace on his left knee with assistant coach Juwan Howard and former Heat center and current team executive Alonzo Mourning watching on.

“This is the extent of what he was able to do today,” coach Erik Spoelstra said with Whiteside working in the background with Howard and Mourning. “He will not travel with us. This is his first court work and it’s good to obviously see him out here, but we’ll evaluate him after today and see if he can do more.”

As for Winslow, Spoelstra said he has not needed an X-ray on his knee. Winslow exited Wednesday’s loss to Portland in the first half with a left knee strain.

“It’s just a strained knee,” Spoelstra said. “He’s not going to travel with us. He’s going to stay here and be in the program with Hassan and we’ll re-evaluate him when we get back.”

Winslow didn’t seem worried about his injury after Wednesday’s game, describing the pain as tightness in his knee.

While the Heat will be without Whiteside and Winslow on Friday, Johnson will return with “no restrictions” after missing Wednesday’s game with a migraine.

“It was fine. It was back to normal,” Johnson said after participating in Thursday’s practice. “I don’t know if people really know what migraines really are. It just seems like it’s a headache, but it’s a frustrating process you have to go through once you start to get one.”

Heat players combined to miss an NBA-high 328 games due to injury or illness last season, and that trend hasn’t stopped yet 27 games into this season. The only thing that helps erase the frustration from the continuous injury issues is the fact that Miami is 13-14 through 27 games this year compared to 9-18 at this point last season.

“Maybe a little less frustrating because the record is a little bit different than when we were going through it last year,” Johnson said when asked about the Heat’s injuries. “But at the same time, yeah, because you know how hard some of these guys have worked. Not only on their body, but on their game, so it’s frustrating from that aspect.”

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