CHICAGO – Hassan Whiteside has played in 10 games since missing 13 straight with a bone bruise in his left knee.
In half of those, Whiteside hasn’t gotten off the bench in the fourth quarter, including Monday’s 119-111 loss to the Bulls, that snapped Miami’s seven-game winning streak. The most the Heat’s $98 million man has played in the final 12 minutes in the last 10 games is 7:44 last week at Indiana.
Otherwise, he played 2:44 of the final quarter in one game and between five and six minutes in three others.
“It’s whatever Coach Spo wants,” Whiteside said about coach Erik Spoelstra. “That’s what Coach Spo wants to do, that’s the lineup he wants to go with. … he thinks is going to get us the win. I can’t do nothing about it.”
Whiteside finished with nine points and eight rebounds in 19:51. He exited the game with 5:52 to play in the third quarter and the Heat trailing 70-58. He never returned.
In the second quarter, Whiteside returned to the game with Miami leading 40-39 and the Heat were outscored 16-8 the rest of the half.
The Heat were outscored by 20 points for the entire game with Whiteside on the court in a game in which for the most part the matchups did not favor the 7-foot center. The Bulls continue to use the 3-point shot as a weapon, taking 39 and making 16.
“I definitely feel comfortable (guarding players on the perimeter),” Whiteside said. “I didn’t have to guard any shooting bigs. They put Robin Lopez in every time I came in, I guess for boxing out. So I don’t have no problem with it, but it’s up to Coach Spo.”
Spoelstra was asked about his approach with Whiteside in the fourth quarter
“It goes however it goes,” he said. “We didn’t get the job done. That’s the bottom line. We were in a hole. At that point, you got to make whatever decisions you can make to try to get back into the game. It looked like we were getting it back. We got it to six and then they made bigger plays down the stretch.”
Spoelstra’s decisions on fourth quarter lineups typically come down to matchups and sometimes just feel when a certain group is playing well.
Spoelstra praised Whiteside’s effort Sunday in a home win over the Bucks. He finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Whiteside entered Monday’s game with four consecutive double-doubles.
But don’t tell that to Spoelstra.
“I actually don’t care about his double-doubles at all,” Spoelstra said. “It has nothing to do with that. Sometimes he gets confused by that barometer. It has everything to do with winning plays and making an impact to help your team win.
“The third quarter (against Milwaukee) was a perfect example of that. He really moved the needle and he inspired the other guys in the locker room. When you have your big fella playing like that our guys in the locker room feel we can beat anybody.”