Goran Dragic returned to practice Tuesday, but the Miami Heat is letting the guard take his time with a right knee injury. On Saturday, the Heat ruled out Dragic for its game against the Utah Jazz on Sunday.
Dragic, who hasn’t played since the middle of November, will miss his seventh straight game when Miami (8-13) hosts the Jazz (11-12) at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat is 2-4 in its last six games without Dragic.
Dragic is one of three players Miami ruled out on an injury report released Saturday. Guard Tyler Johnson and Derrick Jones Jr. are also listed as out. Johnson has missed five straight games with a right hamstring strain and Jones sat out the Heat’s 106-101 win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday with a right hamstring strain, as well. Johnson is expected to be out until at least the middle of next week, while coach Erik Spoelstra said it’s “too early to tell” how long Jones could be out.
While Johnson and Jones have been useful role players for Miami this season, Dragic’s absence is an issue for the Heat. The 32-year-old was an All-Star for the first time last season and was following it up with another solid campaign. Dragic’s 16.3 points per game are second most on the team and he leads the Heat with 4.7 assists per game.
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The knee injury, however, has been a lingering concern. Dragic injured the knee in a loss to the Detroit Pistons early last month and missed two games at the time. When he returned from the injury against the Washington Wizards, Dragic had his first scoreless game since arriving in Miami. He tried to play through some soreness in the knee before the Heat decided to shut him down again before a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Dragic had his knee drained and hasn’t played since.
With Dragic and Johnson out, Miami has primarily leaned on guards Dwyane Wade and Josh Richardson as primarily ballhandlers. On Friday, the Heat started Richardson alongside forward James Johnson, center Hassan Whiteside, and wings Wayne Ellington and Rodney McGruder.