MIAMI (Reuters) - Miami’s Mario Chalmers has never lacked for confidence, indeed some would say he possessed too much of it, but on Sunday, the guard showed he has the game to back up the swagger as the Heat hit back to tie the best-of-seven NBA Finals series at 1-1.
On a night when the San Antonio Spurs double-teamed LeBron James, limiting him to eight points in the opening three quarters, Chalmers made his mark with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting as Miami romped to a 103-84 win.
“You can’t teach that quality - the big game guts,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the Game Two triumph.
“Mario has got guts. Come on. He had that all the way in college. He’s got incredible confidence in his game. He’s shown that throughout the years, even when it is sometimes - I wouldn’t say irrational,” the coach added.
Playing alongside big names James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh was not for the weak-hearted, said Spoelstra.
“You have to have guts to play with our guys. If you don’t, you get swallowed up. The good thing about it is that the other guys were fine with him making plays - that might be different in the next game. But him being aggressive helps us, no question,” he added.
Chalmers also provided some vital work on defense for Miami, effectively guarding Tony Parker, who had been such a handful in Game One, and limiting him to 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
“He has to play a big role for us in multiple facets,” James said.
“He is guarding arguably the best point guard in the league but I think he also has to make Tony work on the defensive end. He can’t be passive.
“We ran a lot of pick and rolls between the two of us and I told him to keep attacking and let’s try to push this lead up and go for the kill - and we were able to do that,” the league MVP added.
Chalmers said Miami’s second half 33-5 run did more than just win the game.
“We wanted to put them away and send them a message, and we did a good job, everybody, of stepping up.”
Editing by John O'Brien