After losing on the first two stops of their six-game road trip, the Miami Heat got back on track behind a huge game from an unlikely source.
Mario Chalmers figures to give Miami a huge lift going forward if he can stay hot.
Chalmers looks to build on the highest-scoring game of his career Monday night as the Heat face the Utah Jazz.
Miami (24-11) was limited to its fewest points this season in Tuesday’s 87-77 loss at Indiana, then fell 92-90 at Portland two nights later as Chalmers missed what would have been the game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.
The fifth-year point guard, though, found his groove Saturday as the Heat posted their highest scoring output of 2012-13 in a 128-99 win at Sacramento. Chalmers scored 34 points, making 10 of 13 from beyond the arc to tie Brian Shaw’s 20-year-old team record for 3s in a game. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 47 points on 16-of-26 shooting.
“This is a classic one for Mario,” Wade said. “I liked it because he just had an opportunity in the last game to hit a game-winner and he missed it. I liked that he came back aggressive. Credit to him for tying a Heat record, hitting 10 3s, I mean, that’s just a phenomenal feat. We all know that Mario, no matter what goes on, he’s a big-game type player.”
Averaging 7.5 points, Chalmers had been limited to a combined 36 over his previous eight games while going 11 of 43 (25.6 percent) from the field. Miami went 3-5 over that stretch but is 14-1 when Chalmers chips in at least eight points.
“I just wanted to get back into a good rhythm,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been struggling all season.”
Chalmers now tries to keep things going against Utah (20-19), which is seeking a fourth win in five games after going 2-1 on its recently completed trek.
One night after blowing a 15-point third-quarter lead in a 103-95 loss at Atlanta, the Jazz stormed back from a 15-point deficit to beat Detroit 90-87 on Saturday.
“This is a huge victory for us after what happened,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “This team has shown a lot of resilience this season.”
Al Jefferson had 20 points and 10 rebounds while Paul Millsap added 17 and seven for the Jazz, who shot 50.7 percent and held a 48-40 scoring edge in the paint.
“This was great, but there’s still a bitter taste because we know we should be going home with a 3-0 road trip,” Jefferson said. “That one (Friday) night is going to bother us for a while.”
Jefferson averaged 23.0 points – 5.8 more than his season mark – on 59.6 percent shooting during the trip. The formidable big man, though, scored just six and hit 2 of 8 from the floor in a 105-89 loss at Miami on Dec. 22.
The Jazz have dropped 13 of 17 in this series, but they pulled out a 99-98 home win March 2 despite a combined 66 points from James and Wade.
James is averaging 30.4 points against Utah – his highest career mark against any team.
While Miami could be without Shane Battier for a third straight game Monday due to a hamstring injury, Utah’s Marvin Williams (right knee inflammation) is hoping to return following a three-game absence.
The Jazz have taken six straight home matchups against Eastern Conference foes dating to last season and are 39-7 in such games since February 2009.