With the Heat’s season on the line Tuesday night, Miami needed something big out of Mario Chalmers.
Miami needed the Chalmers who led the team in scoring in Game 2, the Chalmers who scored 25 against Oklahoma City in last year’s Finals, the Chalmers who hit the three-pointer to help force overtime in Kansas’ national championship victory in 2008.
Chalmers’ game might be inconsistent, but he came through when Miami’s Big 3 struggled Tuesday, making it real tough on coach Erik Spoelstra to pull him out of Miami’s biggest game of the season.
Chalmers didn’t score in overtime, but his 20 points through the first 48 minutes helped keep Miami afloat and were instrumental in the Heat’s rousing 103-100 win.
Miami’s overtime victory kept its hopes to defend the NBA title alive as Game 7 is set for Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
For the first three quarters Tuesday, Chalmers was about all the Heat had going for it as he led Miami with 17 points.
Chalmers, who struggled in the three NBA Finals games played in San Antonio, also led all Miami scorers with 14 points at halftime.
His shots, like the one that helped beat Memphis in the 2008 NCAA title game, were big. Like his three-pointer 16 seconds into the fourth quarter. And his three-pointer early in the third.
“I try to make the most of my opportunities,” Chalmers said after Miami’s win in Game 2, the one in which he led the Heat with 19 points. “You hear how hard it is to get to the Finals. I don’t want any look-backs.”
Norris Cole, one of Miami’s better defenders, didn’t replace Chalmers late in the first quarter as is the usual rotation — and didn’t see the court the entire game.
Chalmers helped keep the Heat within shooting distance of the Spurs at halftime as he hit five of seven shots in the opening half — including two of his three from beyond the three-point arc.
This wasn’t the Chalmers Miami saw in San Antonio.
No, Tuesday was the big-game Chalmers has brought on occasion during his five-year run in Miami.
After leading the Heat with 19 points in Miami’s Game 2 win at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 9, Chalmers went scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting in a Game 3 loss. In Game 4, Chalmers hit two of four shots for six points; Sunday, he had seven points — off 2-of-8 shooting.
“They have had their moments where they’ve played well,” Spoelstra said after Game 5 when asked about the offensive struggles of Chalmers and Cole.
“Game 6 could be a different story. Different guys will step up at different times. And you just have to read the game. We’re looking forward to going home, and that’s all the talk we had in the locker room is, can we put together our best game for Game 6? Guys are looking forward to playing in front of our fans.”
Chalmers had one bad sequence late in the game as he turned the ball over while in the lane. San Antonio then came up the court with Tony Parker scoring with Chalmers hanging all over him. That turnover led to the Spurs taking a two-point lead with 58 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Chalmers also had a nice feed to a driving Dwyane Wade with 2:04 left in the game. Wade was fouled on the play and hit a pair of free throws.