Heat forward Justise Winslow receives inspiration, pep talk from mentor Chris Bosh

Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow shoots during practice in Mexico City on Friday. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

MEMPHIS – Justise Winslow was one of the last Heat players to leave the NBA Mexico games party Friday night, which allowed him to spend more time with his mentor, Chris Bosh.

Winslow and Bosh hung out at the event, at one point Bosh, in Mexico City for the NBA games on a promotional tour with Marriott, had his arm draped around Winslow’s shoulder.

“He actually gave me a little pep talk,” Winslow said, before elaborating. “Just (about) the game, checking in, seeing how things were going. Just talking about how I feel, my role and that sort of thing. And just encouraging me to stay with it and keep putting in the work.”

The result: The 6-foot-7 Winslow had his best game of the season in the Heat’s 101-89 victory over the Nets in Mexico City  on Saturday.  The maligned forward scored a season-high 15 points by shooting 5-of-6 and making all four of his 3-point shots, a career high. He also chipped in with six rebounds, an assist and two blocks, one arguably a game changer when he sent back a dunk attempted by 7-0 Tyler Zeller midway through fourth quarter and the Nets looking to catch Miami.

“That’s my guy,” said Winslow, who played a half season with Bosh his rookie year before Bosh’s season, and likely career, ended because of recurring blood clot issues.

“Obviously, the way things turned out (for Bosh) were not the way we wanted. But my rookie year sitting next to him everyday, being left-handed, being from Texas. …

“I’m not going to say I look up to him because if he sees that he’ll hang it over my head, but I love that guy and he means a lot to me.”

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Bosh, who was waived by the Heat in July after failing a physical the previous September, video-bombed Winslow’s postgame interview with Fox Sports Florida’s Jason Jackson, a flashback to the past when Bosh’s video and photo bombs went viral. Bosh spent seven seasons with the Heat and was a part of the Big Three along with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James that won two titles.

The timing could not have been better for Bosh to attend his first Heat game of the season with his protégé looking like the player the Heat (12-13) hoped for when Winslow was the 10th overall selection in the 2015 draft.

“It’s great,” said Josh Richardson, taken 30 picks after Winslow in 2015. “Good confidence booster for him. Justise is a rhythm player. So when he gets into a rhythm he can keep that going for a while. I hope it carries over.”

Winslow started 15 consecutive games, 13 at power forward, before coach Erik Spoelstra made another switch three games ago, returning Winslow to the bench and moving James Johnson back to the starting lineup.

But Winslow said he was undeterred, not taking it as a “bad thing or a good thing,” and just went back to the mentality he takes into games when coming off the bench.

“I just see it as an opportunity to be even more of a playmaker with that second group,” Winslow said. “Especially with the great spot up shooters we have in Wayne (Ellington) and Tyler (Johnson). I like that group. (Starting or coming off the bench) doesn’t really matter to me.”

Winslow, 21, is among the most scrutinized players on the team, mostly because he came in the league as a high pick without an NBA ready shot. But after shooting 40 percent his first two seasons (his second year cut short to 18 games because of injuries) and 25.8 percent on threes, his percentage is inching up.

Winslow is averaging 6.9 points while shooting 42.9 percent, 38.5 on threes. Part of the reason is he is being more selective with his shot, many of his attempts coming on drives to the basket which he is doing more of as Spoelstra gives him the freedom to handle the ball and facilitate  offense. He enters Monday game at Memphis (8-18) coming off he first double figure scoring night in 11 games.

And Spoelstra hopes Winslow remains under the radar on the scouting reports.

“I’ll continue to say this, it’s not about the shooting with him,” Spoelstra said. “Unfortunately, this is probably when people will start to notice. I want that scouting report not to get out for awhile because his shot – he put so much time into it in the off-season – it was already coming and we already knew that. Those open looks, especially when nobody is closing out to him, he’ll make you pay for those.

Spoelstra added that Winslow has a “relative light green light from behind three” but he doesn’t want him shooting eight or nine a game.

Spoelstra then praised Winslow’s all-around game, specifically his defense and, yes, citing the block on Zeller.

But for Winslow, when the shot is falling his overall game appears to receive a lift.

“I changed some things this summer, then I had the slow to start to the season, but now everyone is just feeding me confidence,” he said. “It’s a little making you feel awkward at times when they leave you so, so open. But I’m just going to continue to knock them down and as the defenses shifts the way they guard me or if don’t, (I’ll) just read the defense and take what they give me.”

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