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Heat president Pat Riley on Hassan Whiteside’s postseason: ‘He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t in great shape’

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MIAMI (AP) — In the case of Hassan Whiteside, the enigmatic Heat center who was a nonfactor in the playoffs and complained about how he was being utilized by coach Erik Spoelstra, Pat Riley made it clear that he wasn’t happy with the entirety of the situation.

Whiteside dealt with injuries during the season and didn’t want to wear a knee brace that the Heat insisted upon, and Riley said that if Whiteside and Spoelstra need an intervention to solve their relationship issues – if any – he’ll handle it.

Riley also didn’t mince words, saying Whiteside needs to make changes.

“By the time we got to the playoffs I don’t think he was ready,” Riley said. “He wasn’t ready. He wasn’t in great shape. He wasn’t fully conditioned for a playoff battle mentally. He, and we, got our head handed to us. The disconnect between he and Spo, that’s going to take a discussion between them and it’s going to take thought on the part of coach and also Hassan.

“How will Hassan transform his thinking, 99 percent of it to get the kind of improvement that Spo wants so he can be effective? How can Spo transform his thinking when it comes to offense and defense and minutes or whatever?”

That word – transform – was a theme of sorts for Riley’s meeting with reporters. He started with a 15-minute monologue on how change has been a constant throughout his 23 seasons with the Heat, how the team landed transformative superstars like Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal in trades and Dwyane Wade through the draft and LeBron James and Chris Bosh in summertime deals.

Come July 1, the Heat will be active on those fronts again – noting that the fan base is clamoring for more.

“Well, we’ll give them more,” Riley said. “We’ll try to give them more. That’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. That’s what Micky has been doing, trying to give you more if we can. But we’re not going to do anything that isn’t smart. We will never do anything that’s really going to hurt the franchise.”

Here’s what Riley is not going to do this summer: quit.

Everything else is on the table.

The Miami Heat president said Monday in his annual end-of-season assessment that no player on the team’s roster will be considered untouchable this offseason – if the right deal presents itself, that is – but quickly added the caveat that the franchise is not looking for a total revamp after going 44-38 in the regular season and making the playoffs.

“Show me the right name, and I could be all-in on everything,” Riley said. “You know me. But it’s got to be the right name … that doesn’t happen very often. Our core guys, we would like to keep together, there’s no doubt. We would like to keep them together and we’d like to add something to it, but that’s going to be a challenge.”

He also was clear on his own future: The 73-year-old Riley, who has spent a half-century in the NBA as a player, coach and executive, isn’t going anywhere until managing general partner Micky Arison tells him it’s time to vacate the president’s office.

In other words, the Hall of Famer’s competitive fires are still burning.

“There’s always something that brings you back in,” Riley said. “There’s something that sucks you back in. … I’m an active participant, and I’m going to stay that way to the chagrin probably of some of you and probably people in the organization.”

Riley held exit meetings with players Friday, three days after the Heat’s season ended in a five-game first-round ouster at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers. He said he hasn’t yet broached the topic of retirement with Wade, for fear of planting that seed. He reiterated that the team wants to try to keep Wayne Ellington, even with the Heat somewhat handcuffed right now by salary-cap and luxury-tax challenges. Miami has $111 million already committed to the as-of-now seven highest-paid players on its books for next season.

NOTES: Before Riley spoke, the Heat said guard Tyler Johnson had surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. Johnson was hurt in the opening seconds of Game 3 of the series against Philadelphia but finished the series. He will be in a cast for six weeks. The Heat expect him to be ready to begin camp in September.

 

Thunder clinch playoff spot by running past Heat 115-93

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MIAMI (AP) — Paul George scored 27 points, Russell Westbrook got his 25th triple-double of the season and the Oklahoma City Thunder clinched a playoff spot with a 115-93 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night.

Westbrook finished with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists for the Thunder, who were down 18 in the opening minutes before outscoring the Heat 39-12 in the fourth.

The 27-point margin was the third-worst for any quarter in Heat history, and the worst ever in a game at Miami.

Jerami Grant scored 17 points and Carmelo Anthony added 11 for Oklahoma City, which made 14 3-pointers.

Josh Richardson scored 18 points and Hassan Whiteside added 16 for the Heat, whose playoff seed won’t be decided until the season-finales Wednesday. Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson each scored 12 for Miami, and James Johnson added 11.

For George, it was a rare win in Miami – his Indiana teams were 2-18 overall and 0-10 in regular-season contests when he faced the Heat on the road.

Westbrook needs 16 rebounds in the Thunder finale Wednesday to average a triple-double for the second straight season.

The Thunder missed their first 10 shots, gave up the game’s first 12 points and wound up trailing by 18 during the opening quarter. They eventually settled in and got the deficit down to single-digits late in the first.

And from there, it stayed that way.

Miami’s lead was down to three by halftime, and Oklahoma City tied the game twice in the third quarter – only to have the Heat immediately answer with bursts, first an 8-0 spurt after the initial tie, then a 5-0 run to take an 81-76 lead into the fourth.

Corey Brewer‘s driving layup with 10:28 left put the Thunder on top for the first time all night, 85-84. Before long, it became a runaway.

 

Chris Paul says he threw up while processing trade from Clippers to Rockets

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It’s easy to forget given how well it has gone so far, but Chris Paul took a major risk by engineering a trade from the Clippers for the Rockets.

The Clippers offered a huge contract (though not the five-year full max.) In Houston, he’s on an expiring contract.

He played on an established very good team with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in L.A. The Rockets had to adjust to a pairing between Paul and James Harden, two ball-dominant guards.

And of course there were personal considerations for Paul and his family. Moving from one city to another so far away is always a big choice.

Sarah Berger of CNBC:

The day after he was traded to Houston, Paul had a photo shoot that he struggled to get through.

“Everyone always thinks us athletes, we’ve always got it together. That’s a lie,” Paul tells CNBC Make It. “I was throwing up at the photo shoot.

“I was out there taking pictures,” Paul continues, “and I was like, ‘Give me a second.’ Boom. I ran out, threw up. Boom. Came back and acted like I had just taken a phone call. [It was] just the anxiety of knowing that there was a change that was coming.”

Paul admits he was scared. “I had been living in L.A. for the past six years. The decision that I made was not only going to affect me, but my family, my kids, everybody around me. It was a big decision.

“Who would have known it’s been one of the best things of my life.

Tyler Johnson said he threw up when he first learned the Nets would sign him to a $50 million offer sheet (which the Heat matched).

But a day later? That’s intense.

Victor Oladipo helps Pacers top Heat in OT to clinch playoff spot

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Victor Oladipo had 23 points and five assists to help the Indiana Pacers clinch a playoff berth with a 113-107 overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Thaddeus Young had 22 points, nine rebounds and five steals, and Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who secured their seventh appearance in the postseason in the last eight seasons.

Tyler Johnson made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, James Johnson had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Bam Adebayo added 14 points for the Heat, who split the four-game season series.

Darren Collison finished with 12 points, made the go ahead 3-pointer to put the Pacers ahead 101-100 with 2:49 remaining in overtime, and Indiana scored 11 straight points to pull away. The Pacers took a 109-102 lead with Collison’s 3-pointer with 55 seconds left to play.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra missed the first game of his career, leaving Indianapolis on Saturday after learning his wife Nikki was entering labor. Assistant coach Dan Craig filled in and Spoelstra is expected to return for Miami’s home game against Cleveland on Tuesday.

Indiana trailed by 14 in the first half and went on a 9-1 run late in the second quarter to take a 50-46 lead on Oladipo’s jumper with 2:22 remaining in the half.

The Heat then scored seven straight, including a dunk and two free throws by Adebayo. And James Johnson’s free throw gave with under a second left gave Miami a 53-52 halftime lead.

The Heat came back from an eight-point deficit in the second half. Johnson forced overtime with a free throw with 8.3 seconds left in regulation.

TIP-INS

Heat: Miami had 10 turnovers in the first half and finished with 17 overall. . Tyler Johnson had 12 points in the first quarter alone. . Adebayo also had five rebounds.

Pacers: Indiana shot 66.7 percent in the overtime period and 48.9 percent overall. … Forward Domantas Sabonis was out for a sixth straight game with a left sprained ankle.

UP NEXT

Heat: Host Cleveland on Tuesday.

Pacers: At Golden State on Tuesday for the first of a four-game west coast trip.

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Balanced Heat roll past Wizards, 129-102

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MIAMI (AP) — James Johnson scored 20 points, Wayne Ellington added 17 and the Miami Heat ran away in the third quarter to beat the Washington Wizards 129-102 on Saturday night.

Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder and Kelly Olynyk all scored 13 for the Heat, who never trailed and outscored Washington 43-28 in the third. That was Miami’s highest-scoring quarter in a regular-season contest since Oct. 30, 2013 – 394 games ago.

Dwyane Wade got the 8,000th field goal of his career in the first half, but left less than a minute into the fourth quarter with what was diagnosed as a mild left hamstring strain. The Heat have a six-hour flight to Portland on Sunday, in advance of a game there Monday.

Jodie Meeks scored 23 for the Wizards, whose five-game winning streak was snapped. Bradley Beal scored 14 for Washington, which was outscored 76-42 in the paint – even on a night where Heat center Hassan Whiteside couldn’t play because of hip pain and his replacement, Bam Adebayo, was limited with foul trouble.

Washington was within 46-44 with 3:51 left in the second quarter, and from there it was all Heat. Over the next 16 minutes, Miami outscored the Wizards 71-35.

It was Miami’s 11th consecutive game scoring at least 100 points, tying the third-longest such streak in team history.

Miami (36-31) carved out a split of the four-game season series with Washington, plus got within two games of the Wizards (38-29) in the Eastern Conference playoff race. A loss on Saturday and the Heat chances of catching the Wizards would have taken a serious hit – since they would have been four games down and with no hope of winning a tiebreaker.