In the middle of the Heat’s 128-99 drubbing over the Sacramento Kings, fans were witness to one of the better point guard battles of the year, which came from the most unlikeliest of floor generals.
While the Kings’ Isaiah Thomas had himself a game with a season-high 34 points on 6-of-8 shooting from deep, he was bested by the Heat’s Mario Chalmers. Mario finished with a career-high 34 points, eclipsing the 30 points he scored against Toronto in 2009, and leading the Heat in scoring for the first time this season. He is the first non-member of the Big Three to lead the team in scoring this year.
Chalmers started off the game with a driving layup, before proceeding to score 13 of the Heat’s first 17 points to build up an 11-point lead with 6:26 remaining in the first. The Kings never threatened and were down by as much as 38 points late in the third quarter. Mario’s onslaught was persistent throughout as he converted at least two three-pointers in every quarter, four alone coming in the first quarter.
Chalmers had 11 combined field-goals in the previous eight games. He had 12 against Sacramento, and hadn’t made multiple three-pointers in a game since he had four against Charlotte on December 26th. That was also the last time Chalmers had finished with a double-digit scoring output.
Perhaps Mario was motivated after watching his attempt at a game-winning three rim out against Portland only two nights before. He had only attempted one field-goal up to that point and was inserted for the final play, despite having not been on the court since the 3:30 mark of the third quarter. The 18 minutes Chalmers played was the lowest amount of time he was featured in a game since a December 6th loss to New York.
Chalmers has had an up-and-down season that’s gone from scoring 20 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder to scoring five points or less in seven of the past eight games. Thanks to this recent shooting performance, Chalmers is now converting a career-high 39 percent of his three-pointers.
There will be no chastising Mario Chalmers today. That will wait until he’s chasing around Mo Williams when the Heat take on the Utah Jazz this Monday.