He only may have seen the court out of necessity, but Dion Waiters didn’t waste his opportunity on Friday night.
Waiters made his season debut for the Heat and scored 14 points as Miami nearly rallied to victory at American Airlines Arena.
While the Heat lost 122-117 to the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was proud of Waiters after the issues he’s gone through this season.
“When I called him, in typical Dion fashion, he said, ‘I’m ready,’” Spoelstra said, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “It was good to have him out there.”
Waiters was suspended for the Heat’s season opener for “a number of unacceptable incidents” after a reported disagreement with Spoelstra. He was then suspended for 10 games after a scary incident on a team flight to Los Angeles after he reportedly ate a THC-infused gummy and then suffered a panic attack on the flight. They suspended him again last month for six games for “continued insubordination” after he reportedly told the team he couldn’t practice because of an illness, but then posted a photo to Instagram of himself on a boat.
At one point, the Heat were “determined to move on” from him and had every option “on the table” to do so.
Yet you wouldn’t have known it on Friday.
Waiters opened the second quarter by draining a pair of 3-pointers, looking as if he hadn’t missed a step. He helped the Heat nearly close the gap in the final seconds, too, hitting a bucket from behind the arc to bring them within just three points after blocking two shots on the opposite end.
Dion Waiters DOES NOT QUIT. 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/aQY92XypyV
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 25, 2020
He finished the night with 14 points and four rebounds while shooting 4-of-9 from the field in 17 minutes.
Waiters was one of just 10 available players for the Heat on Friday, however, as Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn and Justise Winslow were all sidelined with injuries. That, naturally, put Spoelstra in a position where he almost had to use Waiters.
Though his impact on the Heat may be minimal this season, especially when they are back to full strength, his teammates were certainly happy to see him back out on the court.
Bam happy for Dion “He’s got big cojones” pic.twitter.com/4NJCszZ362
— Brendan Tobin (@Brendan_Tobin) January 25, 2020
“I felt great for Dion, seeing him bounce back for all the things he’s been through and all the ups and downs he’s had throughout this season and offseason,” Bam Adebayo said, via 790 The Ticket’s Brendan Tobin. “I’m proud of Dion to do what he had this game, and hopefully he can keep that going moving forward.”
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