Tuesday’s preseason game at the Amway Center was primarily about two things for the Miami Heat: Giving its veterans the night off and getting rookies and its extended bench some valuable minutes.
While Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Luol Deng, Udonis Haslem, Hassan Whiteside and Mario Chalmers served as extra assistant coaches and cheerleaders on the Heat bench, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, James Ennis — and what was essentially a summer league roster featuring Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Gerald Green — dropped a 95-92 overtime decision to the Magic.
Shabazz Napier, the Heat’s 2014 first round pick traded to the Magic this summer, hit a pair of threes, scored 15 points and made the game-winning free throws in overtime to lead Orlando to its second win of the preseason over Miami.
Miami’s 2015 draft picks? They had long, busy nights. More importantly, with the starters and regulars out they finally had a chance for the offense to run through them.
“If it wasn’t for Gerald [Green] most of our plays were for those two guys [in the second half],” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Then you saw all the plays in overtime all the plays down the stretch were in Justise’s hands. When he’s playing with veterans he’s not normally getting those opportunities. But those guys aren’t afraid of those situations. It was good to see them be aggressive.”
Winslow, who came in having played more minutes than anybody else on the team this preseason, had 12 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 35 minutes. But outside of a pretty driving lay-up in overtime that tied the score at 92, Winslow struggled with his shooting again (4 of 11 from the field). The 10th overall pick came in shooting 29.4 percent this preseason.
“My game is not all about scoring,” Winslow said. “The perimeter shot — that’s going to come along. That’s something I’m really focusing on preseason. But it’s also about being in the right spot, bringing energy. If my shot’s not falling, how can I help the team? Whether it’s defense, rebounds, it’s just finding a way to help the team for me.”
Richardson, who averaged only 5.9 minutes in the Heat’s first three preseason games, led all scorers with 18 points (7-of-16 shooting) and had three rebounds, three steals and an assist in 38 minutes. He had two chances to send the game to a second overtime late, but missed a pair of three-pointers in the final 14 seconds.
“It’s fun first of all just to be in that position and it’s good to know the coach has enough confidence in you to put you out there at that time,” Richardson said. “I thought I did some good things, but there were a couple small things I could have fixed on defense.”
Ennis, who had a rough time this summer in Orlando and in Las Vegas and sits as the 15th man on the roster (if the Heat don’t just decide to release him), scored six of his 10 points in the fourth, including a fastbreak dunk with 1:39 to go in regulation. He played 33 minutes and finished 4-of-12 shooting.
Johnson started for Dragic at the point, but didn’t make it out of the first quarter. With 5:26 left in the quarter the second-year combo guard bruised his lower back after being fouled by Channing Frye on a drive to the basket. Johnson shot his free throws and remained in the game a couple of minutes before leaving to the Heat locker room and returning with a cold compress.
“I’m good,” Johnson said. “It’s just a bruised tailbone. I should be good to play this weekend.”
▪ Amar’e Stoudemire and Josh McRoberts, battling knee soreness, remained home in South Florida. Spoelstra reiterated Tuesday he expects Stoudemire and McRoberts to practice later this week and play this weekend. Miami, which will scrimmage Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, plays its next preseason game at Houston on Saturday and then at Atlanta on Sunday.
“I can see how you guys may translate it however else, but this is part of the process,” Spoelstra said. “It’s Oct. 13th. [Josh] and Amar’e had not missed a day [in training camp]. We’re just making sure that they’re still taking steps forward. For Heat Nation, it’s nothing to be concerned about.”