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Cole helps Heat hand Celtics another loss

Dec 28, 2011 - 6:05 AM Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Norris Cole played a big role off the bench with 20 points, including 14 in the final quarter, as Miami held off the Boston Celtics, 115-107.

For a team with their noted big three, the Heat got a boost from a 23-year-old rookie. Cole made half of his 16 shots and came up with three steals.

LeBron James hit for 26 points and Dwyane Wade had a solid all-around game with 24 points, eight assists and four blocks for Miami. The Heat, who beat the Celtics in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, also received 18 points and 11 rebounds from Chris Bosh.

Ray Allen tallied 28 points for Boston, which is 0-2 for the first time since 2006. Rajon Rondo contributed 22 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, but also accounted for seven of his team's 24 turnovers. Those giveaways led to 33 Miami points.

"It starts with turnovers. I know I had too many tonight," Rondo said. "With a special team like that, you cannot give those guys easy looks at the basket, get out on fast breaks and let them get into a rhythm."

Kevin Garnett's jumper failed to connect at the buzzer as the Celtics dropped the opener, Sunday at New York, 106-104. Playing without Paul Pierce (heel), Boston fell behind by 20 midway through the third on Tuesday, but nearly went ahead.

A jumper from James widened the gap to 85-65, but the visitors were within 91-83 going to the fourth. Miami was ahead by as many as 15 early in the final stanza, but nearly collapsed if not for Cole. He hit three key jumpers in the closing 2:09, the last in the sequence pumped the lead back to five at 112-107 with 59.6 seconds left.

"It was some big shots from him," James said. "For us, we have confidence in whoever is on the floor at the time. He's been putting in a lot of work. He's always shooting after practice. He's always in the right spots to make those plays."

Brandon Bass canned a jumper to momentarily get Boston within three before Cole drained his key shot, and the Heat sealed the win at the foul line. Wade made one free throw and Cole drained two from the charity stripe in the closing seconds.

"The floor is open and we're not settling right now for threes," Wade said. "Right now our state of mind is to not be settling for threes, it's to be on the attack and get to the game that we're comfortable with. The coach is doing a good job of letting us get to that game."

Miami shot 10-of-16 from the field over the first 12 minutes, but led by only a 30-27 margin. The Heat led by as many as 17 in the second before settling for a 69-54 advantage at the half.

Game Notes

Boston's Chris Wilcox bruised his left shoulder in the second quarter and didn't return to the game...The Heat have won the last two regular season meetings after losing eight in a row...Miami, which was coming off a 105-94 win in Dallas on Christmas, got 12 rebounds from Udonis Haslem...Keyon Dooling scored 18 for Boston, while Bass had 13.