Heat | Point guards

Miami Heat struggles to slow down Spurs’ Tony Parker

 

Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole were defensive liabilities against Tony Parker, who finished with 26 points and five assists.

Special to the Miami Herald

Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole couldn’t keep up with Tony Parker, regardless of the Spurs guard’s ailing hamstring.

By the fourth quarter, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra resorted to having LeBron James guard Parker.

It was too late. Chalmers and Cole were defensive liabilities in Sunday’s 114-104 loss, and poor shooting nights sunk them further. The Spurs took a 3-2 series lead at the AT&T Center as Parker had a game-high 26 points and five assists.

Chalmers was 2 of 10 for seven points and Cole went scoreless.

“We haven’t been getting the same looks we had in Game 2,” Chalmers said.

Chalmers led the Heat with 19 points in Game 2 but has averaged 4.7 points per game since. He pointed to the Spurs’ pick-and-roll defense as a factor, with the Heat kicking out to the perimeter less.

Defense was a bigger issue Sunday, as Parker finished 10 of 14 from the field. All of Parker’s field goals came from within nine feet. His misses all came on mid-range or outside shots, but he was rarely forced to pull up.

Parker injured his hamstring in the Spurs’ Game 3 blowout victory and had an MRI the next day. He started Game 4 but faded late and was held scoreless in the second half.

“My hamstring can tear any time now,” Parker said after the Spurs’ practice on Saturday, shifting the injury concern of the series off of Dwyane Wade’s knee.

The extra day off before Sunday seemed to give Parker his legs back.

“He was as quick as usual,” Chalmers said. “He got going early. He was aggressive and got a lot of points in the paint.”

Chalmers hit two threes early in the third quarter, helping the Heat cut the Spurs’ lead to 75-74 with three minutes left in the third.

He was playing with four fouls though. When Chalmers went to the bench, the Heat tried to play without a point guard and the Spurs promptly went on a 6-0 run. That run grew to 19-1 as the Heat couldn’t answer Manu Ginobili and the Spurs’ outside shooters.

Spurs guard Danny Green stayed hot, making 6 of 10 three-pointers and breaking Ray Allen’s NBA Finals record with 25 for the series. As Parker had five assists and Ginobili had 10, the Heat couldn’t catch up with the Spurs’ ball movement. Moving James to guard Parker helped in the fourth quarter as the Heat made a brief run, but it wasn’t enough.

When Chalmers struggled to defend Parker in the first half, bringing in Cole made matters worse.

Cole was on the floor for just 3 minutes 8 seconds of the first half but had a plus-minus of minus-12 in that span. He guarded Parker during a 10-0 Spurs run in the first quarter, when Parker scored seven points and assisted on a Gary Neal jumper..

The flat top remained flat in the second half as Cole finished with zero points, zero assists, one turnover and a minus-14 in 6:34 of play.

“We need [Chalmers and Cole] to be aggressive, make plays, hit shots,” Chris Bosh said. “Mario had some good looks. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. But it’s all about defense.”

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