Hassan Whiteside accuses Raptors of flopping but his disappearing act was more harmful to the Miami Heat

Hassan Whiteside. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It wasn’t Jonas Valanciunas’ acting (or singing?) that stopped Hassan Whiteside in a damaging Miami Heat loss Friday in Toronto.

It was Whiteside. And Erik Spoelstra made that clear during a time out early in the third quarter when he met his enigmatic center on the court, got in his face, and continued to chew him out on the bench.

And as much as Spoelstra is trying to massage Whiteside’s ego by praising his play in the second half, the Heat’s $98 million man was a no show for the majority of Miami’s 96-94 loss to the Raptors.

Whiteside finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He missed 10 of his 14 shots. But it wasn’t just the numbers. This was one of those nights he seemed unengaged at times and allowed the officials to dictate the impact he had on the game.

This, after he had shown great progress and dominated the second half of Wednesday’s win in Charlotte.

Whiteside insulted Valanciunas and the official with one quote, one of his more entertaining of the season (and there are plenty to choose from), creating a social media storm with this gem

“My hat goes off to JV,” he said. “That guy’s a Grammy Award winning actor. It’s amazing he just throws his head back and it’s a foul.”

Whiteside then gave props to the entire Raptors team for their acting skills.

“We know they like to flop, the antics they do, we know that.”

Whiteside’s bad night started with foul trouble. He picked up his second just 3:17 into the game, contesting a play near the 3-point circle. It wasn’t a smart foul. And, yes, it was on the perimeter away from the basket. But it was a foul.

But Spoelstra, too, was not happy it was called.

“It’s such a shame those two quick fouls at the beginning,” he said. “These games, everything should be decided by the players right now. Those felt inconsequential.”

I get it, Spoelstra is trying to protect his temperamental star. That’s part of his job. But he was more on the mark with his next comment.

“I thought he could have handled it better in the first half but it was a shame,” he said. “We all were disappointed he was out of the game four minutes into it. Those could be big decisions right there. It was tough for him to get into a rhythm.”

Whiteside played just eight minutes in the first half, missing his only shot and grabbing three rebounds. It was the second straight game in which he was scoreless and took one shot in the first half.

The difference was he truly was a beast in the second half against Charlotte, showing that when his head is right he can dominate a game. Against Toronto. … not so much.

If a player wants the reputation Whiteside craves he needs to learn to overcome adversity, especially during the biggest games of the season.

Valanciunas has the size to muscle Whiteside – both are 7-foot, 265 – and he’s had some success limiting Whiteside, especially in last year’s playoffs.

And he knows the secret as well as anybody. The best way to take Whiteside out of game is to get him frustrated.

Miami has three regular season games remaining, starting tonight at the Wizards and its season likely will come to an end in four days. Whiteside show progress this year, especially in the second half of the season, and proved he can make a big different on both ends.

But he also has had his hiccups that have rightfully frustrated and exasperated the Heat. He can become of the centerpieces to a championship contending team, and someday he will start collecting the hardware he so desperately craves.

But it won’t be a Grammy. Or an Emmy.

[Playoff update: Miami Heat no longer control own destiny in the playoff race]

[Heat guard Goran Dragic brushes off ‘Go back to Russia’ taunt: ‘As international players we are used to that’]

[Heat forward James Johnson on starting: ‘These are trying times. We’re in the trenches, whatever it takes to get a win’]

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