Miami’s whipping boy relieved the pressure off his Big Three ‘superiors’ and himself with a game-changing performance in Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals.
LeBron James tried to steal the attention back his way as he dramatically suffered through what must have been the most severe case of in-game cramping in the history of sports, but on this night the game would be decided from the point guard position.
Mario Chalmers powered in 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter with James limping down the stretch with one of those peculiar basketball injuries that’s debilitating on defense, but magically painless with the ball in hand.
Between Chalmers and a quality stint from rookie Norris Cole off the bench, Miami got a combined 33 points, including 5-of-12 threes in 40 minutes from their point guards.
On the other side, Russell Westbrook ran riot against the Heat’s interior, shredding them for 17 points in the fourth quarter on his way to a series-high 43 points.
While Chalmers’ increased production took the weight firmly off the shoulders of Miami’s Big Three, Westbrook’s ball-dominant outburst left little room for Kevin Durant to dictate proceedings, and kept James Harden ice cold on the hot seat.
And then there was the moment when these two players collided with the Heat leading by three with 13 seconds to play, and the roles of protagonist and antagonist would finally be defined after 47 enthralling minutes.
Whether it was a ‘miscommunication’ or momentary lapse, it was the moment that allowed Chalmers to finally be vindicated for the relentless scapegoating he’s endured from his team leaders.
As a result, Chalmers was rewarded by attending the post-game press conference as a winner based on his merits, not sent out on behalf of James and Dwyane Wade as a sacrificial lamb to help the media write up a post-mortem following a painful loss.
For Westbrook, it was a costly mental error that transformed a briliant individual Finals performance into an unfortunate waste as the game and series slid further out of Oklahoma City’s grasp.
21 Junio 2012