Storyline: Hassan Whiteside Injury

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On a light day of work in the wake of Monday’s overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a practice session held in the absence of point guard Goran Dragic, who was out ill, Spoelstra said Whiteside did 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drill work. “He’s making progress,” Spoelstra said, with the Heat’s season-longest six-game homestand concluding Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls. “We’ll evaluate him tomorrow. I don’t have a determination on when he’ll be ready.”

Whiteside, who has been sidelined with a bone bruise on his left knee since the Heat’s Oct. 18 season-opening loss against the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center, not only was ruled out in advance of Saturday’s game against the Boston Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena, but coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged that Monday’s game against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves also appears unlikely. “He’s doing more. I’m encouraged by his activity level. He’s not ready for a practice yet,” Spoelstra said after Saturday morning’s shootaround. “So we’ll check that box when he gets to that. But in terms of pain, that’s gotten a lot better. And he’s been doing more.”

The next opportunity for Whiteside to make his return will come in Monday’s home game against the Timberwolves. Whiteside’s participation, or lack thereof, in Sunday afternoon’s practice will help to show where he stands entering the fifth game of Miami’s season-long six-game homestand. “We talk, but we don’t want to force him [to play] if he’s not OK,” Dragic said of Whiteside. “He’s good every day. He’s coming early, doing treatments. He’s with the team, talking a lot. That’s the only thing he can do right now, take care of his body, try to get better. And when the doctors or Jay [Sabol] say he’s got a green light, then he’ll be back.”

It took 13 stitches to close the gash on Hassan Whiteside’s right hand Tuesday night. But it may take more than that to keep Whiteside out of Thursday’s home game against the Raptors. The Heat’s $98 million center is listed as probable to play in the finale of Miami’s five-game homestand. “It’s day-to-day,” Whiteside said Wednesday afternoon in his first interview since suffering the injury. “But I’m going there with the intention to play tomorrow. I’m going to go out there, see how it feels.”

Hassan Whiteside now has more rebounds in a season than any player in Miami Heat history. Now Miami needs him to rebound from another hand injury. Whiteside had 23 points and 14 rebounds before leaving late in obvious pain and with blood on his right hand, and the Heat beat the Phoenix Suns 112-97 on Tuesday night. He was getting stitches postgame to repair a cut between his middle and ring fingers, and the team said he will be evaluated again on Wednesday. Whiteside had a similar injury – same place, same hand – late in the 2014-15 season and missed three games.

That knee was already tenuous after he strained it slipping on a wet spot in Game 1, and Whiteside was unable to walk on it. He tried to get to the sideline and dropped to the floor again, then needed help getting to the locker room. He was out of the game and could be out of this series, though the Heat won’t say anything about his status until he undergoes an MRI on Sunday. Whiteside said he has never felt pain like that in his knee and described it as his leg “going two different ways.” He was struggling through the strain as it was and managed six points, no rebounds and no blocked shots in eight minutes before exiting.

Countless times over the years, a player whose ailment was never mentioned, or was consistently downplayed, ends up under anesthesia as soon as the season ends. Quentin Richardson, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers… the list goes on. So it’s natural to be skeptical about Hassan Whiteside’s calf issue, especially as day-to-day has become week-to-week. Still, there are good signs. Whiteside has not been incapacitated by the issue; he’s continued to do strength and conditioning work. And he said himself, prior to Sunday’s preseason opener, that he expected to return before the regular season, and get into at least a couple of preseason games.
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November 23, 2017 | 2:19 am EST Update

League to fine Damian Lillard?

After voicing his displeasure, Lillard was well aware his criticism would draw the ire of the league office and perhaps result in a fine. But he didn’t seem to care. When his postgame interview was over, he turned to CJ McCollum at the locker next to him and offered the following: “Go ahead and fine me,” he said. “I’ve got the check ready to go.”
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Lillard scored 30 points, making 11 of 27 field goals, in the defeat. But despite his high volume of field goals, he attempted only three free throws, a fact that left him incredulous as he left Wells Fargo Center. “I got to the rim a lot,” Lillard said. “And I’m getting smacked in my head, smacked on my shooting hand when I’m going to the basket. Guys (are) knocking me to the ground every other play. Like hard. And (officials) know I’m trying to score. It’s impossible for me to shoot two or three free throws. It’s impossible. As much as I got to the rim and as much as they know that I’m trying to score, it’s impossible for me to get the (crap) beat out of me as often as I do.”
When asked if he felt he had earned the right to get the benefit of the doubt from officials at this stage of his career, Lillard scoffed. He said a foul is a foul, no matter who you are, and he simply wants officials to do their jobs. “I don’t want to look at it like, I’m this person or I’m that (so) you’re supposed to call these fouls,” he said. “I think a foul is a foul. I know it’s tough. They’ve got a tough job, man. But I’m not one of these guys out here trying to sell them on every call … I’m playing to score the ball. I ain’t trying to be out here hitting the ground every other play, because that’s not what I’m going out here trying to do. I’m not going to be falling out the air to get two free throws and hitting the ground the way I’m hitting the ground. I’m getting hit. I don’t want to keep doing it.”
The Sixers (10-7) scored the game’s first 16 points en route to their 101-81 decision Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center. The Blazers (10-8) posted season lows in total points and field-goal percentage (33.7). The Sixers allowed their lowest point total this season. “I thought our offense was a C-minus,” Brown said. “I thought our defense was an A, and we are looking for two As.” But he’s still going to cherish this victory. “I thought at times our offense was sloppy,” Brown said. “But we beat the fourth-best team in the West by 20 points. I’m greedy, but I ain’t stupid.”
Westbrook led the Thunder with 34 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Durant finished with 21 points and five rebounds. First, Durant and Westbrook appeared to exchange some words during the second quarter of OKC and Golden State’s first meeting of this season. After Westbrook forced a turnover, he was shown on the broadcast saying something as Durant walked away and laughed. Per reporters at the game, the Thunder guard made KD laugh by shouting or shaking his head “No” at the crowd.
Storyline: Durant-Westbrook Relationship
Late in the second quarter, Westbrook denied a post entry into Durant and the ball sailed out of bounds. Westbrook turned to the Warriors’ bench and yelled, “No!” Durant pointed at Westbrook while just smiling. Westbrook was then fouled on the other end by Draymond Green. Green didn’t like the call, and he began clapping in the vicinity of Westbrook, and the reigning MVP began clapping back at him. The two had a few words before Westbrook went to the foul line to take his shots.