MIAMI – Tyus Jones was within earshot of Robert Covington when Covington, who is sixth in the NBA in steals, was answering a question about Jones’ prowess swiping the ball after Jones had five steals in Sunday’s 113-104 win over the Heat.

“He’s like me out there,” Covington said with a smirk. “I think people are picking up on my skill set a little bit. Teammates sit up here and things like that become contagious.”

Jones laughed while getting dressed for the team bus and flight to New Orleans for Monday’s back to back with the Pelicans. It was a productive night for Jones on both ends of the floor filling in for Jeff Teague (left ankle) and Derrick Rose (right ankle).

Jones had 12 points and five assists but it was those five steals that stood out.

“It was just anticipation and trying to be in the right spots at the right time, knowing our defensive scheme and strategies,” Jones said. “Knowing their play calls helps a little bit, just studying their play calls and then I always fall back on anticipation.”

Jones said he has to walk a fine line on when to go for the steal, and it’s not always an easy decision for him.

“Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad, but I’ll take my chances a lot of the times. You got to know when it’s an appropriate time. You don’t want to gamble when it’s going to give a straight line drive to the basket and different things like that.

“A lot of times it’s 50-50 and I’ll take my chances, but if I don’t get it, I know I’m going to be hearing it from the sidelines.”

Jones, who is averaging 1.7 steals per game, likely wasn’t hearing it much on Sunday night – coach Tom Thibodeau seemed fairly pleased with
his output.

“He’s got really good instincts with that,” Thibodeau said. “As long as he’s fulfilling his team responsibilities, it’s one of his strengths and I want him to use it.”