An evening without half of the Heat’s first unit left coaches to run more of the offense through Justise Winslow, whose 17-point performance lifted Miami to its third win in as many summer nights, a 78-73 victory against the Detroit Pistons.
“I went out there and played my game,” said Winslow, whose versatility was a primary reason the Heat made him the draft’s No. 10 pick.
“I stayed aggressive and tried to make plays for myself and my teammates.”
With Tyler Johnson given the evening off and Shabazz Napier on a slow path back following sports-hernia surgery, coaches opted to give Winslow an extended run orchestrating the Heat’s offense.
“We came into the game with a plan of putting the ball in his hands and setting some screens with our point guards to try and get him downhill and attacking,” said Dan Craig, the Heat’s summer coach.
Though Winslow hit only 5 of 15 attempts from the floor, he also went to the line 10 times and converted seven.
Throw in four rebounds, and that was enough to play his well-anticipated matchup with Detroit’s Stanley Johnson to a relative standstill.
Johnson, who has known Winslow since elementary school and was selected two picks earlier in the draft, tallied 14 points and seven rebounds. However, he was held scoreless in the final quarter as the Pistons closed within one but never took the lead.
“It’s fun to play against somebody like that,” Winslow said. “For me and him, it’s all competitive. Once we get in there between the lines, it’s a lot of trash talking, a lot of fight, a lot of toughness.”
Willie Reed added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, and second-round pick Josh Richardson also had 13 points in a starting role.
Zoran Dragic and James Ennis joined Johnson in taking the evening off, a planned maneuver to avoid wear and tear on a squad also set to participate in the Las Vegas summer league after finishing up in Orlando.
“We had five hard practices in training camp,” Craig said, “and we knew we were playing three straight games. We just didn’t want bodies breaking down.”
The Heat has Tuesday off before taking on the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.