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Hassan Whiteside leads Miami Heat, gets 13 stitches on finger

By The Sports Xchange
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Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside reacts after injuring his finger during the second half against the Phoenix Suns Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Suns. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside reacts after injuring his finger during the second half against the Phoenix Suns Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Suns. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

MIAMI -- Hassan Whiteside's standout performance also came at a possibly huge cost.

The Heat center set two team records during his 23-point, 14-rebound outing to lead Miami to a 112-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

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However, Whiteside also sustained a deep cut to the middle finger of his right hand as he attempted to block a shot by Phoenix's Marquese Chriss with 2:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. Whiteside immediately left the game and received 13 stitches.

Whiteside's status for Thursday's home game against the Toronto is unknown. The Heat already are playing without injured guard Dion Waiters, who missed his second straight contest because of an ankle sprain he sustained against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

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"Hassan, we'll find out," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We'll know more (Wednesday). Those minutes that he played, he was extremely impactful."

The Heat took the lead for good after a 21-3 run midway through the second quarter. Wayne Ellington keyed the spurt with three consecutive 3-pointers. Tyler Johnson's layup with 3:21 remaining capped the spurt and increased the Heat's lead to 52-39.

The Suns got to within 61-54 on T.J. Warren's layup with 9:15 remaining in the third period before Miami ran off 13 unanswered points in the next 2:49. Whiteside's hook shot ended the run gave Miami their first 20-point lead at 74-54.

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The win, coupled with Detroit's loss at Brooklyn, moved Miami (35-36) one game ahead of the Pistons for eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

With his performance, Whiteside surpassed former Heat center Rony Seikaly for two Miami records. He has 936 career rebounds, eclipsing Seikaly's previous mark of 934. His double-double output increased his consecutive streak to 13, surpassing Seikaly's 12 in 1991-92.

Tyler Johnson recorded 17 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists, and Goran Dragic shook off a cold shooting first half, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the second half for the Heat. Josh Richardson and Willie Reed scored 14 and 12 points, respectively. Ellington and James Johnson were Miami's other double figure scorer with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

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Miami also surpassed 100 points for the fourth straight game on its current homestand and ended a three-game stretch of allowing 100 points.

"Our offense has been going so well that everybody wanted to talk about our offense," Johnson said. "Our defense started to slip in that time period. We just had to get back to our defensive principles."

Chriss scored 24 points for the Suns, who lost seven of their last eight.

Phoenix also was depleted as it played without forward Alan Williams, who was a game-time scratch because of gastroenteritis. Williams averaged double-double points and rebounds in three of his last four games.

"Wayne Ellington and his threes," Phoenix coach Earl Watson said. "A three-point shot can be just like a dunk. It's just an energy shift and he got hot pretty quick."

Miami also benefitted from 24 Suns turnovers.

"I thought we did pretty good battling," said Suns forward Jared Dudley, who finished with eight points and eight rebounds. "Overall, their effort, their intensity, they're playing for something more and you could out there tonight."

NOTES: Heat C Hassan Whiteside was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the week of March 13-19. Whiteside averaged 20 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in the Heat's victories over New Orleans and Minnesota and loss against Portland. He finished with double-double points and rebounds in all three games, giving him 48 for the season, five short of Miami's single season record. ... The Heat close out their five-game homestand Thursday against Toronto. ... Phoenix G Leandro Barbosa returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games because of an illness. Barbosa scored 13 points. ... A lower left leg contusion sidelined Suns G Ronnie Price for the second straight game ... The Suns will reach the midway point of their six-game road trip Thursday at Brooklyn.

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