On a day of loss, Heat bigs deliver needed win

Kobe sits, Lakers fall to Heat (0:47)

Kobe Bryant sits out as Chris Bosh scores a season-high 30 points and the Heat put away the Lakers 101-88. (0:47)

MIAMI -- Mario Chalmers was missing.

The point guard who'd spent his seven-plus NBA seasons in Miami and started for two championship teams, had been traded along with James Ennis to the Memphis Grizzlies for Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes.

Gerald Green was still missing. His situation, however, became a tiny bit clearer, with the Heat suspending him Tuesday for two games for the purposely vague "conduct detrimental to the team."

Kobe Bryant was missing.

Well, he was actually in AmericanAirlines Arena, but the Lakers legend sat out his first game of the season with back trouble.

Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic were playing, but also missing. The Heat's starting backcourt combined to shoot 7-of-24 (29 percent).

Yet, on a day that was somber (Chalmers trade), perplexing (Green suspension) and disappointing (Bryant's absence) for Miami, the Heat raised their own spirits with a dominant frontcourt performance that this franchise hasn't been used to seeing since Shaquille O'Neal was in Miami.

Chris Bosh scored 30 with 11 rebounds, while Hassan Whiteside had 19 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots in 27 minutes.

The pair of big men made the Heat's chaotic day much more tolerable, as this versatile Heat team continues to discover areas of strength.

"We haven't had that in a while around here," Wade said of the Bosh-Whiteside combo. "Hassan, the impact he makes on the game in short minutes is just as impressive as guys who are doing it in more minutes. And Chris, I'm happy he found his rhythm the last two games, because when he's shooting the ball that way, we're a tough team to beat."

Miami could be more difficult to defend once Green returns to the team Friday, following his two-game suspension.

That's, of course, assuming Green returns to his previous role as the Heat's primary scorer off the bench. There's a lot of assuming going on around Green these days.


That's because no one in the Heat organization has really answered questions about Green's bizarre behavior that led to this suspension, leaving most to merely speculate. Last week, Green was hospitalized after a 911 call, first obtained by TMZ, was made saying Green was unconscious and bleeding outside his condominium complex.

Green was then reportedly conscious and acting erratically by the time paramedics arrived, was screaming loudly and reportedly even head-butted a paramedic, and Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue requested police assistance to deal with a "combative patient."

Heat team president Pat Riley didn't offer any clarity when addressing the subject after Miami's 101-88 win on Tuesday.

"It's personal, and I think I'm going to leave it at that ... it's a personal matter, and it doesn't need to be addressed," he said.

It's doubtful Green will offer any more detail about the situation once he returns, though he offered an apology via the Heat's statement announcing the suspension.

"I want to apologize to my family, fans and the Heat organization," Green said in the statement. "I accept the suspension and look forward to rejoining my teammates this weekend."

Heat players sounded confident Green would be able to resume his role with the team once he returns, but there remained a melancholy mood following the trade of Chalmers.

Despite having the reputation as a frustrating teammate -- in large part because he had been yelled at on the court by teammates constantly over the years -- Chalmers was a major contributor since arriving as a second-round pick out from Kansas in 2008.

"Mario's my guy, man," Wade said. "It's always hard whenever you lose teammates -- especially someone you've been with for a long time, someone you won championships with. We all know it's the business of the game, but it sucks.

"Mario's my guy, man. It's always hard whenever you lose teammates -- especially someone you've been with for a long time, someone you won championships with. We all know it's the business of the game, but it sucks." Dwyane Wade

"He was having a good season with us, and hopefully he continues that in Memphis, and I just want the best for him."

The belief had been that Heat owner Micky Arison wanted to get his payroll under the luxury-tax threshold by season's end, and Chalmers and Chris Andersen were the most likely to be moved.

Riley, however, denied that to an extent, saying the motivation for the move wasn't primarily financial and that the team wasn't "actively pursuing" any further trades despite still being above the tax. He added that Chalmers' absence allows for players such as rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, and second-year guard Tyler Johnson to get much-deserved playing time in a less crowded rotation.

"What we do like is we like Justise and we like Tyler and we like Josh, a lot," said Riley, whose team saved about $6 million in this transaction and gained a $2.1 million trade exception that will likely go unused. "I think you've got to give people room to really grow. Now, we're going to miss Mario. We love the guy. He's been here seven years and won two championships. This is not an easy day for me or the organization.

"But we've decided to give these young guys some room to grow and gain confidence. Sometimes, you have to make those kinds of decisions."

It very well could be that this Chalmers trade was mostly a financial decision, which probably wouldn't sit well with a fan base that's been assured this team is building back to a championship level following LeBron James' departure.

But this part is certainly true: Even without Chalmers, the Heat have a deep, talented, adaptable group that could truly be a threat in the East.

"I like the identity this basketball team's starting to embrace," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "A physical, gritty, tough, defensive-minded team, and to be able to wear on them in the second half with some real spirited, passionate defensive possessions is what we're trying to do."