Whiteside helps Heat top Magic

Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:48pm EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - It's the Hassan Hour.

The Miami Heat returned center Hassan Whiteside to the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 20, and the move paid off in a 118-96 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Whiteside played 29 consecutive games as a reserve. But with the playoffs about a week away, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made the move, and Whiteside responded with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

"We need a higher level from Hassan," Spoelstra said. "This team needs him to play at his best level, his most aggressive level, his most consistent level, his most reliable level, his most dominant, physical level -- all of those things.

"I felt the time was now, and he responded in the right way."

So did the Heat, who turned in their highest-scoring game since March 19, a 122-101 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Miami also got double-figure scoring from Luol Deng (20 points), Goran Dragic (19), Dwyane Wade (17) and Gerald Green (15). However, rookie small forward Justise Winslow suffered an injury to his left ankle in the third quarter.

"Justise will travel with us, but he's day to day," Spoelstra said. "He iced it and was walking around, but there is no way to tell."

With Winslow out for however long, that could mean more chances for another Heat rookie, guard Josh Richardson, who shot .589 on 3-pointers in March, the second-best month for any player in NBA history (minimum 50 attempts). Richardson had seven points off the bench on Sunday, making 1-for-3 on 3-pointers.   Continued...

Apr 10, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (right) blocks the basket from Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (center) as Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (left) defends the play during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports