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Heat's Norris Cole looking to build off Nets game

After shutting down Deron Williams, can the second-year guard become the Heat's elite defensive stopper?

US PRESSWIRE

In the Heat's sixth straight win, a 102-89 victory over the Nets, the guys that grabbed the headlines looked like the usual marquee -- Dwyane Wade scored 34 points, LeBron James had 21 and Ray Allen added 13.

But only one member of the Heat had the best game of his season -- Norris Cole.

The second-year guard scored a season-high 12 points and, more importantly, locked down Deron Williams, who scored just 10 points and shot 3-for-11 from the field.

Cole had been struggling to start the season -- he had yet to score in double figures in a game -- but his breakout game on Saturday has the Heat hoping that Cole can keep up his performance and become a bench player that the Heat needs: a top-tier defensive stopper.

Mario Chalmers, whose playing time was usurped by Cole on Saturday, praised his teammate's efforts to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"His confidence is up," Chalmers said. "He's locking people down. ... He played great defense (Saturday). That's what we need from him and that's what he does. He was just waiting for his opportunity. Now he's getting it and he's making the most of it."

Cole, for his part, was just happy to be playing better -- and he's already feeling like he can be a big contributor off the bench this season.

"I'm starting to see things that normally I didn't see," Cole said. "I understand what our coaches want from me. They want me to come in and bring speed and activity."

Cole's day against Williams was so good that he even garnered some high accolades from his most marquee teammate.

"Norris was amazing," LeBron James said. "His intensity was great on the ball against one of the best point guards in the league."

Not bad praise from the MVP.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.