MIAMI — It seemed like Thursday’s game against the Lakers was too fast for Hassan Whiteside.
The Heat’s 7-foot center logged just 19 minutes in the up-tempo game, finishing with six points and seven rebounds. The Lakers, which play at the fastest pace in the league, outscored the Heat by 19 points with Whiteside on the court — the second worst plus-minus he’s recorded this season.
“I look at it like [Erik Spoelstra] is going to make the tough decisions,” Whiteside said after Friday’s practice when asked about his lack of minutes in Miami’s 131-113 loss to Los Angeles. “I could have done stuff better. We all could have done things better, but that’s what film is for. That’s what we’re here for, to get better and that’s what you have practice for.”
Whiteside said he feels comfortable playing the up-and-down game, even with the bulky knee brace he’s wearing after missing 18 games earlier this season due to two separate bone bruises on his left knee.
“I’m comfortable. Even with the brace on,” he said. “I’m comfortable just running up and down and bringing that thing along with me.”
The brace has been an issue for the Heat and Whiteside in the past. After he tossed it aside early in the Heat’s victory over the Magic on Dec. 30, coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear the brace would remain on moving forward.
“That’s not going to happen anymore or he’s not going to be out there,” Spoelstra said following that incident. “He had discomfort. We expect that. Just like a guy wearing an ankle brace or taped ankle. The first few times you do it, it’s uncomfortable, it’s new. But we want to protect him. He’s going to wear it. That’s non-negotiable.”
But Whiteside is still hoping to remove the brace at some point this season.
“I’m trying to get it off,” he said. “I’m going back and forth with the doctors. That’s the toughest thing right now.”
Ellington, T. Johnson unlikely to play vs. Pistons: The Heat are expected to be without guards Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson on Saturday against the Pistons. Both players are dealing with left quad contusions that they suffered in Tuesday’s win over the 76ers.
Derrick Jones Jr., who has six NBA days remaining on his two-way contract with the Heat, is expected to be on Miami’s active roster against Detroit if Ellington and Johnson are unable to play.