Whiteside was held out of team’s 127-100 loss to the Lakers on Friday night, but Miami coach Erik Spoelstra hopes the NBA’s leading rebounder will be able to play Sunday against the Clippers.
Whiteside got accidentally poked in the right eye by Jae Crowder in Boston on Dec. 30, and the Heat’s second-leading scorer missed his fourth straight game Friday. Whiteside stayed behind in Miami while the Heat embarked on their six-game trip, but the 7-foot center improved enough to join his injury-plagued club on the road.
“It’s a lot better,” Whiteside said before Friday’s game. “The headaches went away. I’m not seeing double anymore. So I can see a lot better, and a lot of the pain went away.”
Whiteside had near-constant headaches until Friday morning, but his double vision went away Wednesday. He still has an alarming, dark-red horizontal stripe of blood on the outer sclera of his right eye, but he has been told it will go away eventually, just as a bruise does.
Whiteside really doesn’t want to start wearing goggles, but the Heat’s $98 million man said he will consider trying that if they get him back on the court.
“They were just worried about if I got hit in it again, it could really mess with my retina,” Whiteside said. “That could require surgery, but thankfully I didn’t have a detached retina, so everything came out OK.”
Whiteside averaged 17.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.24 blocked shots per game while starting the Heat’s first 34 games. He had been the lone constant in a starting lineup disrupted by numerous injuries.
Miami forward Justise Winslow tore the labrum in his right shoulder late in the same game at Boston, and he had surgery Thursday that’s likely to sideline him for the rest of the season.
The Heat had missed an NBA-high 144 combined man games due to injury and used 15 different starting lineups heading into their weekend stand at Staples Center. Miami still ended a six-game losing streak and an eight-game road skid with a 107-102 win at Sacramento on Wednesday night.
Dion Waiters, Miami’s fourth-leading scorer, started the first 16 games of the season but missed 20 straight with a groin injury before returning on a minutes restriction in Sacramento.