The Miami Heat looked listless without star center Hassan Whiteside in a loss at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and they may need to find a way to get by without their big man going forward. Whiteside will be questionable with an ongoing knee issue when the Heat begin a two-game homestand against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.
Whiteside was absent for the 115-86 loss to the New York Knicks and expressed concern for the injury that has caused him to miss six games on the season. “It has really been bothering me throughout the season,” said Whiteside, who is averaging 14.9 points and 12.7 rebounds. “You know, I sat out, I missed them games, I came back, and it’s still bothering me.” If shorthanded, the Heat could be getting the Hornets at a good time, as Charlotte lost three in a row after a 126-113 setback at Toronto on Wednesday and could be without point guard and leading scorer Kemba Walker (shoulder). Walker missed the loss to the Raptors as his team fell to 1-9 on the road.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Charlotte), FS Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE HORNETS (8-12): Coach Steve Clifford told reporters that Walker’s shoulder is still very sore, leaving the All-Star guard questionable going into Friday. His replacement against Toronto, Michael Carter-Williams, was 1-for-10 from the floor and is 1-for-15 with 10 turnovers in 49 minutes over his last two games. Backup guard Jeremy Lamb had 18 points in Wednesday’s loss and scored in double figures in all but one game this season.
ABOUT THE HEAT (10-11): With Whiteside hobbled, guard Goran Dragic’s sudden slump comes at a bad time. Dragic, who averaged 23.7 points during a recent three-game winning streak, produced a total of 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting during the team’s two-game slide, missing all five of his 3-point attempts. “We have to figure out this thing quick and, you know, just bring that energy every night,” Dragic told reporters in New York. “If you play hard and you lose, you can check yourself in the mirror and say they were just better. But if you don’t give everything you’ve got, you can’t say that.”
1. Heat C Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 18 points in Wednesday’s loss and is averaging 11.3 while making 7-of-11 3-pointers over his last four games.
2. Lamb is 28-for-29 from the line over a span of eight games.
3. The teams split four meetings last season, each team going 1-1 on its home floor.
PREDICTION: Heat 99, Hornets 95