MIAMI – Mario Chalmers marched toward midcourt with a message.
“I felt like we had them on the ropes at the time. I told him, ‘Let’s go for the kill,’” Chalmers said. “He said, ‘I’m with you.’”
And once LeBron James joined in, the Miami Heat were back with a blowout in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Chalmers led the charge, James broke out to finish it with a flurry and the Heat used a 33-5 run to rout the San Antonio Spurs 103-84 on Sunday night and even the series at one game apiece.
James missed 10 of 13 shots through three quarters and the Heat trailed by a point late in the period before unleashing the lethal brand of basketball that led them to a franchise-record 66 wins this season.
Chalmers finished with 19 points, and James had 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks – the best on Tiago Splitter’s dunk attempt – while shooting only 7 of 17 from the field.
For two days following Game 1, the thought was that James needed to do more for his teammates. Turns out, it was Chalmers and the supporting cast who did something for James.
“Honestly, for me, when I was struggling offensively, my teammates continued to keep it in range,” James said. “And we even had a lead at one point, especially late in the second quarter when we made that run and I was struggling a little bit.
“So I think Rio more than anybody kept us aggressive, him getting into the paint, him getting those and-ones and making a couple of 3s. It allowed me to sit back and wait for my time.”
The Heat made 10 of 19 3-pointers and got 13 points from Ray Allen, and 12 points and 10 rebounds from the previously slumping Chris Bosh.
Danny Green made all six shots, including five 3-pointers, and scored 17 points for the Spurs. They host Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Tony Parker had 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting for the Spurs, who were so precise in their 92-88 victory in Game 1 but threw the ball all over the white-surrounded court Sunday, committing 17 turnovers that led to 19 Miami points.
“In the second half they just run us over,” the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili said. “Their pressure really got us on our heels.”
Tim Duncan shot 3 of 13 and finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
“We didn’t play well. We didn’t shoot well. I know I played awfully,” Duncan said. “Whatever it may be, they responded better than us. So hopefully we can look forward to this Game 3 and regain some of our composure.”
James insisted he wouldn’t force himself to do more after he had a triple-double in Game 1 but never seized the opportunity to take control of the scoring as the game was slipping away.
He didn’t need to. Not with Chalmers making big shots, the Heat’s defense forcing the Spurs to look shaky all over the floor, and a barrage of second-half 3-pointers.
James finally got some openings late, hanging from the rim an extra second not long after a sensational blocked shot freed him up for a fast break.
The often-maligned Chalmers is frequently found in Heat highlights being yelled at by James or another Miami veteran. But he’s as cocky as any of the superstars in Miami, and he has the big-moment plays to back up his bravado, from a tying shot for Kansas in the 2008 NCAA championship game to his 25 points in Game 4 of last year’s finals.
“You have to have guts to play with our guys. If you don’t, you get swallowed up,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The point guard sparked the Heat late in the third, after San Antonio had taken a 62-61 lead. He converted two three-point plays, Allen and Mike Miller nailed 3-pointers, and James made only his third field goal of the game during a 14-3 finishing spurt that sent Miami to the fourth with a 75-65 lead.
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