Heat's Bosh, Cole lead charge vs. Wizards in season opener
MIAMI -- It may have been just the first game in the post-LeBron James era, but the initial results with Chris Bosh leading the Miami Heat looked impressive.
Coupled with a career game from Norris Cole, the Heat were able to pull away in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards with both players capably shouldering the bulk of the offensive workload.
Bosh was an unstoppable force right from the start with a corner 3-pointer to open the scoring. He followed that up with 16 points in the second quarter alone on an efficient 5-of-6 shooting from the field.
"It's good," Bosh said afterwards. "I need a couple of 'I told you so' moments throughout the course of the season, I'm not going to lie. But with that said, it's one game. I have to make sure I'm staying focused on what we need to do and what I need to do individually and really just try to bring that effort every night."
But it was much more than the 26 points he scored to lead all players on Wednesday night. His 15 rebounds, nine of them in the second half, were just as huge. His decision-making with the ball in his hands -- more then it has ever been since signing with Miami in 2010 -- was perhaps the most important facet of his game. He's more than just a scorer now, and his statement game to start the season spoke for itself.
"This has been happening for four years," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's been developing new aspects of his game, he's reinvented himself. That's why I always kind of laugh when people say he has to be CB from Toronto. He's so much more of a dynamic player now then he was then and then you add the leadership. But he also is a true two-way player, which he wasn't necessarily required to do that in his early years in Toronto.
"He was fantastic tonight, but it's all of it. We were able to run our offense through him where we're not necessarily just clearing out and letting him go to work. He's a great decision-maker when he has the opportunity to attack, or just as important, to facilitate and to let our game happen. Pretty much at the end of the last six minutes of the fourth quarter, we just ran our offense through him and I thought he made great decisions."
Spoelstra was undoubtedly pleased with the performance of Cole as well, even if he was a little surprised.
"I wasn't even expecting that," he said. "I just wanted him to quarterback our team, make decisions and get us organized. He came out super aggressive in the beginning -- almost frantic -- and then he settled into the game and made solid decisions from there."
Cole was indeed aggressive from the start with eight points in the first quarter alone. He made Spoelstra's decision to hand him the starting role after preseason auditions look wise. With his dribble penetration and long-range shooting, he helped create space for his teammates to operate.
"I just set out to be consistent and play well," Cole said. "I was able to get to certain spots -- spots that I practice every day and spots that as a team we practice every day coming off pick-and-rolls and making the right read. The right read (tonight) was to make the shot. Sometimes it might be to hit the guy with the pocket pass or get off the ball but tonight it was open so I took the shot and (was) aggressive."
Without James, who many times eclipsed his teammates with his talent, opportunities have opened up for players like Bosh and Cole. For one night, the team produced a positive result that featured balanced scoring and a collective effort on defense.
Bosh in particular thrived with more responsibility on offense.
"I get a lot of touches, but that's not necessarily to score every time," Bosh said. "It's on me what I want to do with it. A lot of the times it's for a score but it's something I'm going to get better at. Whether I'm being aggressive, making plays for my teammates or taking it to the rim or making a shot, I just make sure I'm doing it well if coach is going to give me that responsibility."