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Whiteside does it again as Heat beat Celtics

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Updated 10 months ago on
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BOSTON — There are things every coach can count on heading into a season. For Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, he knew a long time ago he could count on feeling the pain of the loss of LeBron James and Ray Allen.

What he couldn’t have even dreamed out, though, is Hassan Whiteside.

Who?

Hassan Whiteside, a 25-year-old basketball vagabond of a center who has burst onto the NBA scene with some wild numbers, capped by 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in Sunday’s 83-75 victory over the Boston Celtics.

“He continues to surprise me,” Chris Bosh said after the Heat blew a 15-point lead but never trailed in going to 21-26. “He’s a talented young fella. We want to continue to push him and encourage him to play and do well.”

This is what Whiteside has done in the last four games:

He came off the bench at Chicago with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 — yes, 12 — blocked shots in 24:37. Added to the starting lineup, he went for 16 points and 16 boards at home against Milwaukee, and then had 16 points and 24 — yes, 24 — boards in a terrible loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

He is 29 of 50 from the floor.

“If it falls within the context of what we do, he has good touch,” Spoelstra said. ” … If he’s wide open and they’re disrespecting him and it comes within the flow of what we do, I’m fine with that.”

The 7-footer, who has toiled in the D-League and overseas, scored the last four points for his team in the third quarter and the game’s first six of the fourth as the Heat, after blowing the lead, used an 8-0 run at the start of the quarter.

Miami, playing without the injured Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng (and, of course, the departed James and Allen), still managed the win and to stay afloat in the year after LeBron.

Bosh, coming off a 5 of 18 game against Dallas, still struggled from the field, going 6 of 19. But the forward scored 18 points and grabbed seven boards. Guard Tyler Johnson, also a free agent and on his second 10-day contract, came off the bench in his third NBA game with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists (his NBA high in everything, including 27 minutes) for the Heat in the opener of a four-game trip.

With the local crowd thinking of the Super Bowl, which was hours away, the Celtics, hitting their first seven shots of the second half, overcame dreadful first half and fought back to tie, inciting the crowd. But they never led.

“I just thought we were flat, as far as scoring the ball, in the first half,” said Boston coach Brad Stevens. “We’ve got to do a better job of finding our pulse at the defensive end regardless of whether the ball is going in the basket or not. That’s a hard thing to do — a lot of teams struggle with that. But when you miss the number of shots that we missed, I thought we let that affect how much we talked defensively.

“I could hear the silence and that’s a bad thing when you’re trying to guard somebody.”

Guard Avery Bradley and center Tyler Zeller led the Celtics (16-30) with 17 points apiece, while forward Brandon Bass had 15 and rookie guard Marcus Smart nine assists and five rebounds to go with three points.

While guard Evan Turner is playing with an injured right thumb (he’s 2 of 16 the last two games), Bradley said “I think I fractured” his left thumb Sunday. “I fell on it. But it’s fine,” he said. “It’s not my shooting hand so I’ll be OK.”

Forward Tayshaun Prince, who made his home debut with the Celtics on Friday night after coming over from Memphis, was on the bench in uniform, but didn’t play, sparking speculation he may well be on the move again. But it turns out he has a hip flexor injury and tried it pre-game before telling Stevens he couldn’t go.

“We missed him,” the coach said.

NOTES: With G Dwyane Wade (hamstring) not on the trip, F Luol Dang (calf) worked out before the game but didn’t dress for Miami. … Citing traffic, Celtics F Jared Sullinger was five minutes late for the morning walkthrough and didn’t start, coach Brad Stevens insisting it was no big deal. Sullinger had been the only Celtic to start every game. … Rookie swingman James Young, fresh off going 9 of 13 from 3-point range for D-League Maine Red Claws on Saturday, was back with the Celtics and played nine minutes. … A Patriots video and song fired the crowd, many wearing Patriots garb, up during a second-half timeout. … The Heat bolted after the game, determined to make Detroit to watch The Game. … G Mario Chalmers played in his 486th game for Miami, tying him with Keith Askins for fourth place on the team’s all-time list. … F Kelly Olynyk (ankle) was still out for Boston. … The Heat continue their four-game road trip at Detroit on Tuesday night, while the Celtics, who opened a stretch of five games in seven days Sunday, are at the New York Knicks on the same night.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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