There was a noticeable hole on the Heat bench in the closing seconds of Tuesday night’s loss to the Magic.
It was about 7-foot, 265 pounds.
Center Hassan Whiteside abruptly left the bench and went to the locker room by himself with less than a minute to go in Miami’s 105-90 home loss to Orlando, one that put the Heat’s record at 9-14 for the season.
Asked after the game about what happened, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he had yet to receive an explanation from Whiteside.
“Probably extremely upset like we all are,” said Spoelstra, whose Heat shot 41.8 percent from the field and 40 percent (2 of 5) from the free throw line.
Dwyane Wade told reporters that Whiteside said he left the bench because he had to go to the bathroom.
The center wasn’t made available to the media after the game and instead was reportedly practicing his shooting.
Whiteside had 10 points and six rebounds in the first quarter, but had just two points and three boards the rest of the way. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter, and the apparent tipping point came with just under 50 seconds to go. D.J. Augustin made a 3-pointer to give Orlando a 103-90 lead, and Miami then turned over the ball, forcing the Heat to foul on the Magic’s ensuing fast break.
Whiteside stood up from the Miami bench and walked back into the American Airlines Arena locker room.
Spoelstra said Heat players need to channel their frustrations.
“Everybody, if they’re angry, frustrated, pissed, funnel it into the team until we get the changes that we want right now,” the coach said. “That’s it. We have enough to be able to push this thing forward the way we want to. This lack of consistency is killing us right now.”