White­side sorry for sud­den exit

Heat cen­ter on leav­ing bench in loss: ‘I had to go to the bath­room.’

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By David Furones South Flor­ida Sun Sen­tinel

So was it frus­tra­tion Has­san White­side that couldn’t hold in when he left the Mi­ami Heat bench be­fore time ex­pired in Tues­day night’s loss to the Or­lando Magic — or some­thing else?

The Heat cen­ter, whom coach Erik Spoel­stra didn’t play in the fourth quar­ter, said Wed­nes­day he merely had to go to the bath­room, as Dwyane Wade had told re­porters fol­low­ing the game.

“I was just hold­ing it,” said White­side, who left the bench with 40.5 sec­onds re­main­ing in the 105-90 de­feat. “It’s not the first time I left the bench to go to the bath­room, but I think the sit­u­a­tion kind of made it a big­ger deal be­cause we were down 15.”

But it was a big enough deal for Spoel­stra to have a dif­fer­ent re­ac­tion Wed­nes­day.

“It’s to­tally un­ac­cept­able be­hav­ior by Has­san,” Spoel­stra said. “We han­dled it as a team in the locker room [Wed­nes­day].”

It was the fifth time in the last six games that White­side didn’t get fourth-quar­ter min­utes, but the 7-footer in­sists it’s not ir­ri­tat­ing him.

“I’m not get­ting frus­trated,” White­side said. “Coach is go­ing to make the best de­ci­sion, and the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s got Spo’s back. I trust him. That’s all I can do. I can only con­trol what I can con­trol, try and do my job.”

White­side was a re­bound shy of a dou­ble-dou­ble, fin­ish­ing with 12 points and nine re­bounds in nearly 25 min­utes. He shot 6 of 7 from the floor.

White­side’s 12 points led the

“It’s to­tally un­ac­cept­able be­hav­ior by Has­san. We han­dled it as a team in the locker room [Wed­nes­day].”

—Heat coach Erik Spoel­stra

Heat at half­time, when they were up 50-46. But he was score­less in the third quar­ter, when Mi­ami was outscored 30-12.

“I didn’t know it was go­ing to be as big of a deal as it was,” White­side of his early exit. “I couldn’t hold it. My stom­ach was both­er­ing me. Maybe I would’ve tried to hold (it) even longer, I don’t know.

“I tried to hold it as long as I could, but I had to go to the bath­room. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad guy.”

Fol­low­ing Tues­day night’s loss, Spoel­stra said he didn’t have a rea­son from White­side then but of­fered his best guess: “Prob­a­bly ex­tremely upset. Like we all are.”

White­side said the ur­gent trip to the re­stroom was the same ex­pla­na­tion he gave his team­mates after the game. He said he was ap­proached by Wade and told him in front of team­mates that his stom­ach was bug­ging him and he wasn’t sure if it was some­thing he ate.

While White­side him­self was not avail­able to speak to re­porters in the locker room fol­low­ing the loss, Wade first told the me­dia about the bath­room or­deal Tues­day night.

“I think it was a big­ger deal be­cause it was me,” White­side said. “I went to the bath­room last game when we played Utah. I go to the bath­room — it’s not the first time. I think the sit­u­a­tion was [am­pli­fied] in that it’s Has­san White­side.”

White­side said he wasn’t in the locker room be­cause he shot 300 free throws after the game on the Heat’s prac­tice court. He has con­verted just four of his 26 at­tempts over the last six games.

If there was any un­set­tled frus­tra­tion after the loss, stay­ing away from the me­dia may have been the best course of ac­tion for White­side from a pub­lic re­la­tions stand­point, given a pre­vi­ous in­stance when he voiced his dis­plea­sure in the locker room over lack of play­ing time. Late last sea­son, fol­low­ing a tight home loss to the Brook­lyn Nets on March 31, White­side re­peat­edly said it was “bull----” that the Heat were play­ing him less to match up with smaller line­ups.

Fall­out from that ex­ple­tive-laced tirade, for which he was fined, led to a rough end of the sea­son, one White­side has been try­ing to put be­hind him so he can re­turn to form after lead­ing the NBA in blocks in 2015-16 and re­bounds in 2016-17.

Be­tween those cam­paigns he signed a fouryear, $98 mil­lion deal with the Heat. Mak­ing $25.4 mil­lion this year, he has a $27 mil­lion player op­tion for the 2019-20 sea­son.

Tues­day was a set­back for White­side, who just one game ear­lier was ac­tive and phys­i­cal against the Utah Jazz and cen­ter Rudy Gobert. White­side fin­ished with 23 points and 20 re­bounds in the one game among the Heat’s last six in which he saw fourth-quar­ter ac­tion.

With­out White­side on Tues­day, Spoel­stra played his other two cen­ters, Bam Ade­bayo and Kelly Olynyk, the en­tire fi­nal pe­riod in a two-big lineup — al­beit one that could match up bet­ter on the perime­ter against 7-foot Magic cen­ter Nikola Vuce­vic, who is a ca­pa­ble 3-point shooter.

Olynyk pro­vided a spark early in the fourth. Twelve of his 13 points came in the fi­nal pe­riod on four 3-point­ers. Ade­bayo brought en­ergy through­out his 23 min­utes with blocks and put­back slams that ig­nited the crowd.

LYNNE SLADKY/AP PHO­TOS

Heat cen­ter Has­san White­side scored 12 first-half points against the Magic on Tues­day but was kept off the court dur­ing the fourth quar­ter.

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