The last thing Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expected on this road trip was a one-on-one meeting with Mario Chalmers about his confidence.
When Chalmers missed a potential game-winner against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, he mentioned briefly after the game how difficult it was to come off the bench for the final play after sitting the entire fourth quarter. Although it wasn’t exactly a criticism of Spoelstra’s in-game coaching decisions, the comment was out of character for Chalmers.
Spoelstra needed some face time with his starting point guard to sort everything out.
“The only thing I said is what he already knew,” Spoelstra said. “I said, ‘Hey, there are no excuses. You didn’t play in the fourth quarter, but I had you in there for a reason.’
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“Because at the end of a game, he’s going to hunt for an open shot, and he’s going to take it with as much confidence as anyone in this league at that moment.”
On Saturday in Sacramento, Chalmers found himself on the bench to start the fourth quarter once again. This time, it had nothing to do with rotational strategy. Chalmers had knocked down enough three-pointers in the first three quarters of the game (eight) to earn some rest in the final period.
Still, Chalmers wanted back in.
Knowing he was close to the Heat’s franchise mark for three-pointers, Chalmers lobbied to reenter and Spoelstra gave him the chance at history with 5:51 remaining. The Heat led by 31 points entering the fourth quarter, so Chalmers had to work quickly.
A self-described protector of the game’s integrity, Spoelstra didn’t feel comfortable leaving Chalmers in a blowout game just to jack up shots.
Chalmers, who was 8 of 11 from three-point range before the fourth quarter, didn’t need much time. Two days after reentering a game late in the fourth quarter and describing it as “tough,” Chalmers needed only two attempts to tie the Heat’s franchise record for three-pointers (10) set by Brian Shaw in 1993.
“All my shots were going in,” Chalmers said. “It’s nice to get things going and get back on our game.”
Chalmers’ 10th three-pointer came with 3:12 left in the game. The Heat’s bench erupted in celebration so boisterously after the basket that Spoelstra had to settle everyone down for fear of showing up the Kings.
“It was awesome,” LeBron James said of Chalmers’ record-tying shot. “We are teammates. Anytime we have a guy that can go off like that it’s great. He had it going, and we just tried to continue to find him, and he kept on knocking them down.”
Chalmers started the game smoking hot. He had 13 points in the first quarter and went into halftime with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and was 5 of 7 from three-point range. Chalmers had nine points on three three-pointers in the third quarter.
He finished with 34 points, a career high, and was 12 of 16 from the field and 10 of 13 from three-point range.
Chalmers tied Shaw’s record with just two attempts in the fourth quarter but never had a chance to break the 19-year-old mark. He was substituted out of the game after tying the record with 2:52 to go.
“He got the record,” Spoelstra said. “That’s what we wanted him to get. There still is an integrity to this game.
“We’re up big against this team in their building. At that point, it’s not about trying to embarrass the other team and just go for records at the expense of the integrity of the game. He had gotten 10 from pretty much the flow of the game, even though the last three minutes you’re kind of hunting for a record, and it’s a little bit awkward. But at least he got it, and everyone was happy for him.”
With his fifth three-pointer, Chalmers passed Dan Majerle (414) for fifth place on the Heat’s all-time three-point list.