Led by Norris Cole, Heat’s three point guards pace aggressive offense in opener

MIAMI — Faced with incorporating several new players and dealing with some minor injuries to key players to open the 2014-15 NBA season, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is far too early in the process to get a handle on his roster and settle on a rotation.

Conventional basketball wisdom has gone out the window, especially when it comes to his backcourt. Mario Chalmers should be starting based on his veteran experience and Norris Cole should be backing him up — as it’s always been since he was drafted by the Heat in 2011. Rookie Shabazz Napier perhaps shouldn’t even be seeing the floor as he begins his NBA career with so much to learn.

Instead, it was Cole who emerged out of the preseason with the starting role in the Heat’s season opener. Chalmers and Napier were two of the four Heat reserves to enter the game Wednesday and the trio came together to power the Heat’s victory over the Washington Wizards.

”It was fantastic, especially Norris,” Chris Bosh said of the three-headed point-guard attack. ”He was very aggressive. He took some great shots and he really pushed the tempo a lot. We’re going to need him to be who he is, just being aggressive on the open court, moving the ball on offense and being a good defender. We feel that if he does that and he gets us off to good starts — making sure the ball is going from side to side — we stand good chances of winning.”

Cole’s career-high 23 points recalled his home debut as a rookie three years ago, when he surprisingly led the Heat down the stretch to victory against the Boston Celtics in their 2011-12 season opener with 20 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals.

Chalmers also played well on Wednesday night in support of Cole and Dwyane Wade, with eight points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Napier was also solid in his first NBA game as well.

”I thought Shabazz really settled into the game and got us organized on three or four critical possessions in the fourth quarter,” said Spoelstra. ”It was good to see.”

In the second quarter, the trio assisted on every Heat field goal but two. Bosh was the recipient of four of those assists.

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”It’s always a collective effort, especially at the point guard,” Bosh said. ”Norris hasn’t been starting long, this is his first start and he did pretty good. But as the season goes on, he’s really going to have to continue to stay consistent, stay aggressive, and really keep his mind straight when the tough times come.”

With Wade briefly held out in the second half after sustaining a calf injury, it was the point guard trio playing together that helped pushed the Heat ahead of the Wizards. In crunch time during the final quarter, Napier scored on a driving layup and both Chalmers and Cole knocked down clutch three-pointers.

”It’s a total team effort,” said Cole. ”We come in waves. Rio, he’s a vet. Rio can play in the biggest moments so he knows what it takes. Shabazz has picked up quite a bit of information very fast. He’s a sponge, he soaks in everything. We all go at it every day in practice. We go to war every day in practice to make each other better. I think we’re going to need consistent play from all of us.

”Each of us have different roles. It’s our job to star in our roles.”

You can follow Surya Fernandez on Twitter @SuryaHeatNBA or email him at SuryaFoxSports@gmail.com.