Miami’s new era got off to the best possible start.
Chris Bosh had 26 points and 15 rebounds, Norris Cole scored a career-high 23 points after winning Miami’s starting point-guard job, and the Heat pulled away late to beat the Washington Wizards 107-95 on Wednesday night — the first time in five years they played an opener without James.
"Heat Nation was waiting for this game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We were waiting for this game."
Dwyane Wade added 21 points for Miami, 12 of those down the stretch after he briefly departed with a calf injury. Luol Deng added 12 for Miami, which finished with a 44-36 rebounding edge.
"I’m just happy to be playing basketball again in front of this great crowd and this great city," said Bosh, who matched his season average from a year ago midway through the second quarter. "We have so much going for ourselves right now. I like to win. It doesn’t matter how we do it. We can get better."
Marcin Gortat and Drew Gooden led the Wizards with 18 points apiece. Paul Pierce added 17 in his Washington debut, and John Wall finished with 16 points and 11 assists.
"We have to do a better job of establishing our identity," Pierce said. "That team is not known for their rebounding. No way they should outrebound us."
The Heat led by nine with about 9 minutes left, helped in part by a spectacular three-point play by rookie James Ennis — who took off from about midway down the paint, elevated over Rasual Butler and threw down a dunk while getting fouled. A layup by fellow rookie Shabazz Napier made it 84-75, before the Wizards came right back.
Washington peeled off eight straight points, with Otto Porter making a pair of jumpers that helped get the Wizards within one. But 3-pointers from Cole and Mario Chalmers helped Miami pull away for good.
"It had nothing to do with our offense," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We didn’t defend off the dribble all night long."
Wade left with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter after getting kicked in the left calf. He got tangled up with Pierce and Garrett Temple while on the floor for a loose ball, didn’t even jump to contest the ensuing jump ball — which Miami controlled anyway — and signaled for a time out before limping slowly toward the locker room.
He returned with 5:59 left in the fourth. He was 4 for 11 from the floor when he left, and then 4 for 5 after he returned.
Wizards: PF Kris Humphries (hand surgery) played after being listed as a game-time decision, while SG Glen Rice Jr. (right ankle) did not play. … The Wizards were also without SG Bradley Beal (wrist), along with forwards Nene and DeJuan Blair (both serving one-game suspensions related to a preseason incident against Chicago). … The Wizards’ most recent opening-night win was in 2009.
Heat: Wade made his 11th opening-night start, extending his franchise record. … It was the 11th straight home-opening sellout for the Heat. … F Danny Granger (sore hamstring) was scratched. … Chalmers was Miami’s starter at the point in five of the last six opening nights.
It was the 16th time that Bosh had finished with at least 26 points and 15 rebounds — and the first time he had done so since joining the Heat. His last such game was a 35-point, 15-rebound effort for Toronto against Indiana on Feb. 2, 2010.
LATE `D’ WOES
Washington was in the upper third of the league in fourth-quarter field-goal-percentage defense last season, at 43 percent. The Heat shot 62 percent (13 for 21) in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, outscoring the Wizards 35-25 in the period.