MIAMI — LeBron James wasn't playing up to his usual MVP level Sunday and got a needed assist and pep talk from a teammate. And not one of the high-profile ones.
Mario Chalmers, usually the one being screamed at by Miami's Big Three during play, lifted James and the Heat in Game 2 against the Spurs. It was early in the Heat's 33-5 game-deciding run that tied the series. Game 3 is tonight.
Chalmers scored and before the subsequent free throw to convert the three-point play, he walked over to James, who had been struggling, and basically told him it's winning time.
"I thought we had them on the ropes and I told him let's go for the kill," Chalmers said.
James' response, according to Chalmers: "I'm with you."
Chalmers was a catalyst, with eight points with two assists in the run. And James was 5-for-5 with 11 points, three assists and a block of Tiago Splitter's dunk. Before the run, James was 2-for-12 and Miami was in danger of falling behind 2-0.
"I was struggling a little bit," James said. "I think more than anybody kept us aggressive, him getting into the paint, him getting those and-ones and making a couple of threes. It allowed me to sit back and wait for my time."
The Spurs failed to take advantage of an average James and below-average Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade and Bosh played only 2:01 in the surge and were scoreless. The Spurs easily could be up 2-0 if their Big Three played well in Game 2. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili totaled 27 points and were a combined 10-for-33.
"We have basically no shot winning a game against them if none of us played good," said Ginobili, who is 6-for-17 with 18 points in the series. "We definitely got to step up and do better."
COACHING UPDATES: The Pistons hired Maurice Cheeks, 56, as coach, replacing fired Lawrence Frank. The four-time All-Star point guard, a Thunder assistant since 2009, is the franchise's fourth coach in six seasons. He was head coach of the Trail Blazers and 76ers. … Jason Kidd reportedly interviewed for the Nets opening, addressing his inexperience by proposing to stock his bench with veteran coaches, including Frank. … Lionel Hollins, the winningest coach in Grizzlies history, said the team will not renew his contract. Memphis was a franchise-best 56-26 this season. … Quin Snyder, a former assistant with the Lakers and 76ers and ex-coach at Missouri, was hired as a Hawks assistant. Snyder, 46, spent last season as an assistant with CSKA Moscow. … The Kings hired Chris Jent 43, an assistant at Ohio State since 2011, as an assistant.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reached a settlement with a New Jersey auction house that allows his mother sell six items of his memorabilia, while also getting an apology from his parents, who thanked him for his financial support. His mother had planned to auction almost 100 items. Items for auction: two high school uniforms, two 2000 NBA championship rings, a 2000 NBA All-Star game ring and a medallion and ribbon from a high school all-star game. … Former All-Star Mookie Blaylock is out of the hospital and in jail, charged with vehicular homicide in a May 31 car crash south of Atlanta. Blaylock, 46, is being held without bail.
Spurs 1, Heat 1
TV: Ch. 28
Game 1: Spurs 92, Heat 88
Game 2: Heat 103, Spurs 84
Tonight: at San Antonio, 9
Thursday: at San Antonio, 9
Sunday: at San Antonio, 8
June 18: at Miami, 9*
June 20: at Miami, 9*
* If necessary