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ASK IRA: Is no fourth quarter for Whiteside an acceptable Heat norm?

Q: Ira, how could Hassan Whiteside be good and efficient for three quarters and not four? — Masoud, Tucson, Ariz.

A: Trust. There simply is more confidence at closing time with Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo. It also has to do with how opponents play, especially if they move to an outside-shooting big man, which was the case late with the Pelicans once Julius Randle went out. While the Heat do not necessarily have Hassan step out on shooters in the first three quarters, there is not that luxury when points count the most. So the defensive system changes, one that does not necessarily play to Hassan’s skill set. Beyond that, with Justise Winslow missing Sunday’s second half and with Goran Dragic out, it also necessitated the need for more ballhandling, which Olynyk, in particular, can provide. For now, let’s look at this one as the case of a player being back for only a second game after missing the previous four. Besides, winning is good? Right.

Q: Yes, that’s a great ending for this road trip 4-2. Don’t know how they won but they did. — Skip, Tampa.

A: Now they have to do it at home, and it won’t be any easier there, considering the next three home opponents are Houston, Milwaukee and Toronto. That ultimately would be as much of a read and test as the six-game trip. But what the trip showed is an ability to compete with just about anyone, even when shorthanded.

Q: How bad will the Heat be next season without Wade? — Chadwick, Lake Worth.

A: That will depend where the next level of leadership will come. The hope has to be that by then Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson or another young player will feel up to the moment at the moment of truth. Again, teammates tend to defer to Dwyane at moments of truth such as Sunday (then again, who wouldn’t defer to an impending Hall of Famer?). The tradeoff with Dwyane stepping up this season is that teammates will learn by example how to grow in such moments. Follow him at or

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