Justise Winslow had the ball in his hands with the game on the line on Monday night.
In spite of its recent woes, that’s usually been a good thing lately for the Heat.
But despite posting his highest scoring game of the season, Winslow couldn’t make one last positive play that could have kept the Heat from suffering its fourth consecutive loss on Monday thanks to the Orlando Magic.
With Winslow inbounding the ball with 1.8 seconds left and the Heat down by two, Goran Dragic came free near the basket.
But with 6-9 center Bismack Biymobo disrupting Winslow’s line of sight with his length, Biymobo deflected Winslow’s pass that allowed Evan Fournier to steal the ball as time expired.
"Initially I was reading Goran’s guy and then the play started taking long to develop," Winslow said. "Then Goran’s guy ended up switching up and he ended up being open. But I really couldn’t see him with Biymobo on me like that, but I should have done a better job of being able to see everything and making the right read."
The play came moments after the Heat failed twice to tie the game as Josh Richardson missed a jumper with six seconds left and Tyler Johnson had his shot blocked by Biyombo with two seconds to go. The second shot was initially ruled goaltending, but then reversed after review.
The Heat maintained possession since it had the ball when play was stopped. The Magic then sent Biyombo to defend Winslow on the inbound.
"At that point, it was a good move on their part," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They put Biyombo on the ball. Regardless of who we would have had inbounding, he would have been on the ball. And he was able to deflect. At that point we had a couple of triggers right there. I don't think the first one was open, the second one wasn't open, and then if it was a clean pass, maybe something over the top for J-Rich."
Despite the game-ending turnover, Winslow’s impactful play since returning from injury has been a welcome result for the Heat’s 21-year old forward.
Over the past 12 games during which the Heat has gone 4-8, Winslow is second on the Heat in plus/minus rating with plus-45, which only trails Kelly Olynyk’s plus-69. During that span, Winslow is also the third-best rebounder on the team averaging 5.9 boards per game.
Winslow scored a season-high 16 points in Monday’s game also adding eight rebounds and two assists on 6 of 10 shooting for a team-best plus/minus of 22 in 26 minutes and 58 seconds.
Winslow regrets his impact hasn’t translated to Heat victories.
The Heat is 5-8 overall since Winslow returned from a left knee injury that forced him to miss the previous 14 games. During his absence, the Heat went 11-3.
"I would love to really look back and reflect and kind of see the progress I’ve made over the past couple of weeks but we’ve got to win games," Winslow said. "It’s not about me. It’s bigger than me. We’ve got to figure out ways to get W’s and impact that. I guess if you do zoom in on me I’ve been doing a better job of late, but it’s about winning games and we didn’t do that tonight. We just have to go and watch the film and see how I can affect the game more and help this team get over this hump and get out of this funk we’re in."