MIAMI — If there are extra minutes to be earned off the Miami Heat bench this season, James Jones has a chance to cash in.
He certainly had the chance Saturday night.
Jones hit 6 of 8 from behind the arc to finish with 18 points in the Heat’s 121-96 preseason victory against the San Antonio Spurs. The 6-foot-8 forward played 24 minutes, benefiting partly from LeBron James and Ray Allen sitting out to rest.
“My job is to come and make shots whenever I’m playing. Whether or not that leads to more minutes or more time, I don’t really concern myself with that,” Jones said. “When that opportunity presents itself, I need to do what I’m supposed to do, which is make the shots because my teammates got me a lot of open, easy looks tonight. I’m always grateful for them for setting me up to do what I do best.”
Jones, in his 11th NBA season and sixth with Miami, averaged 1.6 points while playing in 38 games last season. With sharpshooter Mike Miller’s departure from last year’s team, Jones could be battling Rashard Lewis, Michael Beasley and Roger Mason Jr. for playing time if and when some reserve scoring is sought.
“It could be various guys that fill that type of role and it would be a different role — it isn’t necessarily going to be the same,” Erik Spoelstra said of the void left by Miller’s exit. “We’ll see how that plays itself out.”
Jones, a University of Miami product, has a career overall shooting average (39.9) that equals his percentage from 3-point territory.
“You always want to play more,” Jones said. “My competitive edge and spirit leads me to want to play every minute if I could, but it’s all about doing what’s best for this team. I feel like I thrive in a role that’s extremely difficult for most guys to handle.”
Jones’ attitude and work ethic hasn’t been lost on his coach.
“J.J. has proven time and time again that when his number is called, he keeps himself ready,” Spoelstra said. “He’s an absolute pro because the conditioning he does behind the scenes is at an elite level. His shooting routine is parallel to what Ray (Allen) does.
“But then the confidence level he has is so unique, to be able to sit for extended periods of time and as soon as your number’s called to find your rhythm and shoot it without hesitation and with that type of confidence. That’s probably, arguably, his greatest skill.”
Dwyane Wade said championship teams need players like Jones.
“It’s tough for anybody to handle a role like that. It’s not easy,” said Wade, who had a game-high 25 points. “That’s why a lot of teams don’t stay together, a lot of teams aren’t as successful as they can be because they don’t have guys like James Jones.
“He brings it every day in practice and he always stays ready. So when a guy goes down, you don’t lose a lot from the standpoint of a guy who knows the offense, knows the defense and can come in and do what he did tonight.”