Justise Winslow continues to grow in role as Miami Heat backup point guard

ORLANDO – The evolution of Justise Winslow continues.

The 6-foot-7 Winslow is gaining more confidence in his newfound role as the backup point guard, looking comfortable at that spot during Wednesday’s season-opening 116-109 loss in Orlando.

Magic forward Aaron Gordon drives to the basket between Miami’s Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow during Wedesday’s season opener in Orlando. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The embattled three-year veteran played 23 minutes, the most of any reserve, and scored 10 points with four rebounds and two assists. He was aggressive with the ball, taking it to the rim, and is settling into a position we did not see him playing until late in the preseason.

“Each game he’s looked a little bit more like himself just in terms of his activity and his defense and making some of those intangible plays, being aggressive,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You can see that he’s not thinking about holding back at all and I think that will get better each game.”

Winslow entered the game for Goran Dragic about nine minutes in and within three minutes took it to the basket twice, scoring both times, and had a free throw. Then, early in the second quarter, he knocked down his first 3-point shot of the season, something he struggled with throughout his career.

Winslow, who also played several second half minutes at power forward replacing James Johnson who was in foul trouble, fits into the Heat’s drive-and-kick game.

“Our mentality is you want to go from a good shot to a great shot and if you can finish around the basket try to finish,” Winslow said. “(If) you don’t want to finish or try to do too much that is when you (pass) it. When the guys collapse and you have an open man. It is just finding that balance.”

Winslow’s role as a facilitator could become even more important if Dion Waiters’ troublesome ankle become even more of an issue. Waiters said he tweaked the ankle three times during the game and eventually had to go to the locker room in the third quarter and have it re-taped. He did finish strong and closed with 15 points and four assists, but this is something that could become a major issue.

[Erik Spoelstra not interested in “empty numbers” after defensive letdown in loss to the Magic]

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