Hassan Whiteside didn't play in the fourth quarter for the Miami Heat on Sunday for a different reason than the last time when they met the Wizards. Sunday, the NBA's leading shot-blocker was so dominant in a 97-75 victory that his services weren't needed.
"Hassan Whiteside was incredible," said Wizards center Marcin Gortat, who had his shot blocked four times by the NBA's best rim protection. "I personally haven't seen a better shot-blocker in the past nine years in the league. He's really challenging a lot of shots and changing the whole game. He's pretty good."
Whiteside, who had 25 points and 19 rebounds in Miami's win against the Dallas Mavericks two days ago, had a more modest stat sheet in this one. he came over to reject mid-range shots by the 6-11 Gortat.
In a 114-103 loss to the Wizards on Dec. 7 with Gortat absent on personal leave, coach Erik Spoelstra pulled the 7-footer in the fourth quarter in a feeble attempt to counter coach Randy Wittman's small-ball lineup. It didn't work.
Even when the Wizards (15-17) went small Sunday, Spolestra stuck with Whiteside. The Wizards couldn't take advantage because they couldn't buy a bucket in the second quarter when they shot 2 of 22.
Garrett Temple had an open three in front of his bench, passed it up and dribbled inside the lane only to have it altered by Whiteside. John Wall had a transition layup nullified.
"You understand he's there but we played against a lot of shot-blockers," Temple said. "You got to continue to attack him. He can't block all of them. You have to try to use his aggressiveness trying to block shots to your advantage sometimes. Maybe gets some drop-offs to March, pump-faking, (getting him) in foul trouble. I think we shied away from that. We didn't attack him as much as we should have."
Whiteside didn't pick up his first foul until 4:27 of the second quarter. It was his only foul in 30 minutes played as he finished with six points, 13 rebounds and six blocks compared to the 14 points, four rebounds and three blocks he had in the first meeting.
"We ran pick-and-rolls. We moved the ball," Wall said. "We had about five or six layups that got blocked, missed a couple layups, missed free throws. We got the looks we wanted."
Wall, however, wasn't willing to go as far as Gortat with his praise of Whiteside.
"Gortat," he said, "says that about everybody that blocks shots."
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