Heat point guard Mario Chalmers is averaging 6.3 points and 3.9 assists per game so far this season. Backup point guard Norris Cole is averaging 4.9 points and 2.2 assists per contest.
Not much difference in numbers, really.
Yet Cole has consistently been eating into Chalmers' minutes lately, particularly in the fourth quarter of games.
The reason: Chalmers has been maddeningly Chalmers lately.
As streaky a player as you'll ever want to take your television and smash it into some random person's face over, Chalmers has taken 49 three-pointers this season and made only 16 of them.
Against the Warriors, he went 2 of 4 from the three-point arc but turned the ball over twice while dishing out just one assist in 24 minutes of play.
Then there was the time Chalmers nearly murdered Dwyane Wade with his Chalmersness.
During the second quarter of their loss against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, Wade's face inadvertently met with Warriors guard Klay Thompson's elbow during a play. As he held his face hunched over in pain, Chalmers came swooping in and slammed into D-Wade's head. Wade crumpled to the ground. It was like watching someone get hit by two oncoming cars in slow motion.
"Mario Chalmers is very key to this ball club, and we want to make sure how important he is to us," Wade said before that game. "So we need to make sure we pump the positive into Rio and get him back on track. Because for us to be a good team, we need him at a high level."
And then Wade was nearly decapitated by Rio.
So now Cole is taking up Chalmers' minutes. Against the Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks earlier this week, Cole played every minute of the fourth quarters.
The points and assist numbers aren't that different between the two. But the one major advantage Cole has had over Chalmers lately is his defensive play.
Also his ability to not throw the basketball 18 feet over a wide-open LeBron James into the stands. Also, his ability to constantly not dribble the basketball off his foot.
Despite the similar stat lines, Cole remains the Anti-Chalmers in every way.
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