Bosh steps up to help Heat hold off Celtics

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- LeBron James looked strong until he suffered from cramps in the fourth quarter, Dwyane Wade's knee looked just fine, and new addition Ray Allen came off the bench to give the Miami Heat another potent threat.

However, it was Chris Bosh, Miami's sometimes forgotten star, who delivered the big finish the Heat needed to hold off the Boston Celtics 120-107 Tuesday night in the season opener at AmericanAirlines Arena.

On the night the Heat celebrated their 2011-2012 NBA title with a ring ceremony, their championship defense began with an impressive overall performance.

Still, the Celtics -- Allen's old team -- cut a 17-point deficit and trailed just 111-107 with 2:05 remaining.

That's when Bosh came through, scoring on a drive to the basket and then adding three free throws and a dunk on Miami's next three trips to squelch Boston's threat. Bosh finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

James had a busy offseason with a run to Olympic gold and various promotional appearances all over the world. However, he looked to be in stellar form Tuesday, putting up 26 points and 10 rebounds.

He had to sit out the last nine minutes with the cramps, which he said he doesn't expect to be a lingering problem.

"I was advised by our unbelievable medical staff that I shouldn't come back in," James said. "I got some liquids and did some stretching, but once you start cramping, there's nothing you can do about it."

Wade, who had offseason surgery, finished with a game-high 29 points. He said that with James out, it felt like old times.

"It felt good," he said. "It's kind of what I'm used to, guys coming to me. But the biggest thing was knowing that there wasn't anything major with LeBron, and we have a deep team."

The team got deeper with the arrival of Allen, who scored 19 points in his Heat debut. He greeted the Celtics before the game, a gesture that impressed Wade.

"It's classic Ray," Wade said. "I was so happy every time he hit a shot because it wasn't against us. It wasn't against me."

Allen said he almost got confused while playing against his former team.

"I had to stop myself a couple of times in the beginning," he said. "I would run down the floor and ask myself: 'Who am I supposed to be guarding?'

"My first instinct was to guard the Miami jerseys, but luckily I caught myself. My brain has to be switched over right now."

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 23 points, and Rajon Rondo added 20. Rondo was also called for a flagrant foul for grabbing Wade on a drive to the hoop.

Kevin Garnett was held to nine points on 4-of-8 shooting. He added 12 rebounds.

The Celtics shot 52 percent from the floor, but coach Doc Rivers wasn't pleased.

"We made some plays on offense, but it wasn't good offense," he said. "We took bad shots and forced turnovers. We didn't do a good job of getting Garnett the ball down low, and that's on me. We should have had a low-post game, and we had nothing."

Rivers also praised Allen while being less than complimentary toward Boston's defense.

"Ray was terrific -- he made a lot of shots," Rives said. "He went right all game, and we let him. First play on the floor, and we leave Ray open on the baseline corner. You would think we would know better."

NOTES: Before the game, NBA commissioner David Stern helped the Heat celebrate last season's league title. A championship banner was raised to the rafters, where it will keep company with the Heat's 2006 flag. ... Players, coaches and other personnel received their championship rings during the ceremony. ... There was one slip in the festivities: Stern, who was greeted by boos, referred to this week's storm that hit New York City as "Hurricane Katrina" instead of Hurricane Sandy.
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