OKLAHOMA CITY -- Mario Chalmers saw two different sides to the game Tuesday night.
Of all the stars on the court in Oklahoma City; perhaps none had a better first half than Chalmers.
The third-year floor general out of Kansas, who entered averaging 11.6 points and nearly four assists per game in the 2012 NBA Playoffs; had 10 points and five assists in the first half but was held scoreless in the second until a layup in the middle of the fourth quarter pushed his total to 12.
Often relegated to the playing the off-ball guard spot because of LeBron James’ ability to the play point-forward; Chalmers was able to get his teammates going early; usually finding them standing wide open at the three-point line, where the Heat hit 6 of 10 in the first half.
While James and guard Dwayne Wade struggled in the first half, shooting 40 percent before James was able to get going from the floor, Chalmers was able to help bail the dominant duo out by hitting timely shots, going 4 of 6 from the field including 2 of 4 from three-point range and helping Miami jump out to a 13-point lead at one point before finishing the half up seven at 54-47.
Chalmers wasn’t nearly as involved in the offense in the second half as Oklahoma City guards Russell Westbrook and Derek Fisher bottled him up.
Chalmers’ defense also took a hit after the first 24 minutes, where he played stifling man-to-man on Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook — whom most figured to pose the biggest matchup problem for the Heat.
Chalmers forced Westbrook to go 3 of 10 in the first half for only nine points. But in the second half, Westbrook was able to get around Chalmers and to the free throw line as he scored 10 points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth, with seven of those coming from the line.
The Heat offense moved the ball much more effectively in the first half, tallying 14 assists before halftime compared to just four in the second half. Chalmers’ play at the point was a reason they had better ball movement, as he pushed the pace for Miami and hit teammates for wide open shots.
Chalmers’ production was at a season high in the Boston series. He averaged 12 points and nearly five assists per game in helping the Heat beat the Celtics in seven games.