Hassan Whiteside on his lack of fourth-quarter minutes recently: ‘We won the game, so I can’t really be mad’

TORONTO — Center Hassan Whiteside hasn’t played many fourth-quarter minutes recently. In fact, he’s played just 15 of the possible 72 fourth-quarter minutes in his first six games back from injury.

But the Heat are 5-1 during this stretch, so Whiteside isn’t complaining.

“As long as we’re winning,” Whiteside said in advance of the Tuesday’s game against the Raptors in Toronto. “You know, we won. So as a player, of course you want to be out there. But we won the game, so I can’t really be mad at that. That’s what you’re out there to do anyway. You’re out there getting all them rebounds and blocks to win a game. So every point counts.”

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside puts one in the basket against the Utah Jazz on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. (John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Whiteside has averaged 11.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.3 blocks in 22.1 minutes in six games since returning from a bone bruise on his left knee that kept him out for 13 consecutive games. But in fourth quarters recently, coach Erik Spoelstra has gone with smaller and more versatile lineups that feature Kelly Olynyk and/or James Johnson in the frontcourt.

“Not all the time,” Spoelstra said before Tuesday’s matchup with the Raptors, when asked if Whiteside has been kept on the bench late in games to allow for smaller lineups. “Different games require different things. The fourth quarter could be his tonight.”

Whiteside, who is in the second season of his four-year, $98 million contract with the Heat, admits he wants more minutes. But he also understands the Olynyk-Johnson frontcourt has been effective, as Miami has outscored opponents by 38 points in 416 minutes with that duo playing together this season.

“You always want to play,” Whiteside said when asked if he wants to play more. “As a player, I don’t want to come out. If you ask me, I want to play 48 minutes. So that’s a tough question. But coach sees different things. Maybe he sees different things on the court. Sometimes it’s tough to take those guys out, too, because you got to take somebody off the court. And them guys were playing well.”

Spoelstra has made sure communication with Whiteside isn’t an issue when it comes to this topic.

“He told me don’t get frustrated with it, always trust he’s on my side,” Whiteside said of his conversations with Spoelstra. “We’re all on the same team and don’t get frustrated with it. He’s proud of me.”

Whiteside, 28, has already missed 18 games this season due to bone bruises on his left knee. But there’s still plenty of time for him to make up for time lost.

“He’s still getting there,” Spoelstra said. “It has nothing to do with the knee. It’s just a habit for him of doing more, of getting more, of being more consistent with all of it. And I won’t stop with my expectations for him and what this team needs from him.”

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