Winless Celtics take on Hornets in Big Easy

Flip open your newspaper this morning and you may think that the Atlantic Division standings were printed upside down but it's no mistake.

The bullies on the block in the Atlantic, the Boston Celtics, have been without leading scorer Paul Pierce and are 0-2 to start the season for the first time since 2006-07.

Pierce will be on the shelf again Wednesday night when the C's visit the Big Easy, hoping to avoid a third consecutive loss to open the season against the New Orleans Hornets.

Boston fell to 0-2 in South Beach on Tuesday when rookie Norris Cole played a big role off the bench with 20 points, including 14 in the final quarter, as Miami held off the Celtics, 115-107.

Ray Allen tallied 28 points for Boston, which has won the Atlantic in four consecutive seasons and hasn't started 0-2 since 2006, the year before the team acquired Kevin Garnett and Allen to team with Pierce. 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."

Two days earlier on Christmas Day Garnett's jumper failed to connect at the buzzer as the Celtics dropped their opener at New York, 106-104.

Pierce, who is struggling with a bad heel, was joined on the injured list Tuesday by big man Chris Wilcox, who bruised his left shoulder in the second quarter vs. Miami and never returned.

The new-look Hornets, meanwhile, opened their season on Monday with a thrilling win in Phoenix when Eric Gordon drained a jumper from the top of the key with four seconds left to lift New Orleans over the Suns, 85-84.

Gordon, who was acquired from the Clippers in the Chris Paul deal, buried two free throws with 1:21 left to pull New Orleans within two. After both teams came up empty on their next possessions, the Suns' Steve Nash came down the court, found Jared Dudley who pulled up at the foul line and missed the jumper.

Trevor Ariza corralled the rebound for N.O. and called timeout with 16 seconds remaining. Gordon then took the ball at the top of the key and dribbled for about eight seconds before crossing over twice and pulling up to hit the game- winner with four seconds to play.

"The play was set up where I get it at the top of the key and just go one-on- one. I just wanted to finish the play, and I did," Gordon said.

Gordon finished the game with 20 points, while Carl Landry added 14 points and seven rebounds. Ariza scored 13 and also grabbed seven boards.

These two teams have split the home-and-home season series over the past two years.