Cole comes up big, and Heat beat Celts 115-107

Norris Cole stepped to the foul line with 9.3 seconds left, set

to clinch the game as cries of ”M-V-P” rained down upon him from

the sold-out stands.

No, this wasn’t a scene from his days at Cleveland State.

Taking over in just his second NBA game – and with LeBron James,

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all on the floor, no less – Cole scored

14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including three huge

jumpers down the stretch to save the Heat in a 115-107 win over the

Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

”You grow up and live for moments like that,” Cole said.

James scored 26 points, Wade had 24 points, eight assists and

four blocks, and Bosh scored 18 for the Heat, which led by 20

points midway through the third quarter before having its lead

twice sliced to three points in the final minutes. And both times,

Cole took passes from James and knocked down jumpers, keeping

short-handed Boston at bay.

”He’s got savvy,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ”Great

pickup.”

Ray Allen scored 28 points on 8 for 12 shooting for the Celtics,

while Rajon Rondo finished with 22 points and 12 assists and Keyon

Dooling scored 18 off the Boston bench.

Through two games, Miami (2-0) has trailed only once – by two

points, for all of 14 seconds. Boston turned the ball over 24

times, and Miami turned those into 33 points.

”Any team you turn the ball over that much they’re going to

score on you,” Allen said. ”We just have to settle in on both

ends of the floor. Whether you score or not, they’re going to run

down your throats.”

Cole’s jumper with 3:01 left gave Miami a 108-98 lead, most of

which disappeared in the next 59 seconds, thanks to Dooling – a

former Heat guard. He scored seven straight points, including a

3-pointer with 2:02 remaining, cutting the Heat’s lead to three.

And when Boston got a stop on the next Miami trip, the Celtics

looked for Dooling again.

But Wade stepped in front of a pass intended for Dooling,

starting a play where James found Cole for another jumper, and

Miami’s cushion was back to 110-105 with 1:31 to play. A

half-minute later, Cole struck again to restore the five-point

edge, and Miami had the win.

”He’s earned their respect,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

”Even though it’s been a short period of time, about three weeks,

because he’s pure, he’s all about the team. He’s mature … and he

gets them the ball. You’re always a popular guy when you find

people when they’re open.”

Boston was again without forward Paul Pierce (bruised right

heel), who worked out both Monday and Tuesday and is getting closer

to a return. It won’t come on Wednesday, however – the Celtics have

already ruled him out of that game in New Orleans, but there is

some hope of Pierce being in the lineup when Boston makes its home

debut against Detroit on Friday.

Maybe spurred by the new Eastern Conference championship banner

hanging from the rafters, Miami came out flying.

A short bank shot by Wade made it 26-15 at barely the midpoint

of the first quarter, setting the tone for an offensive bonanza the

likes of which Boston typically doesn’t allow. After a late flurry

– James setting up Wade for a lob, Wade missing at the rim but

James trailing for a tip-in being perhaps the most impressive of

Miami’s highlight reel to close the second quarter – the Heat took

a 69-54 lead into the locker room.

That represented the most first-half points allowed by the

Celtics since Feb. 8, 2005, according to STATS LLC.

Six straight points by James made it 85-65 midway through the

third, and Miami was well on its way to a blowout. But then

everything changed – Boston went to a zone, and Miami’s offense

stopped in its tracks.

Feasting on Miami’s second unit, with James being the only

starter on the floor, the Celtics closed the third on an 18-6 run

to make it 91-83 entering the fourth. The Heat missed their last

eight shots of the quarter – after having missed 14, total, in the

first 32 minutes of the game.

Boston never got the lead down the stretch, though, thanks to

Cole.

”We have confidence in whoever’s on the floor at that time,”

James said. ”For him to make those shots and come up big in a game

like that, give credit to him.”

NOTES: After two games, the Heat have 131 points in first halves

this season. After three games last season, Miami had 130

first-half points. … Celtics F Chris Wilcox didn’t play in the

second half because of a bruised left shoulder. X-rays were

negative. … The Heat said the luster of the matchup wasn’t hurt

by Pierce not being available. ”We play the name on the front of

the jersey, not the one on the back,” Wade said. … Celebrity

sightings included Miami Dolphins RB Reggie Bush, rapper Rick Ross

and retired tennis star Boris Becker.