DALLAS -- If Jason Terry can't figure it out, how is anyone supposed to?
"It’s frustrating, no question about it," Terry said of his strange pattern of putting up bricks through three quarters and then nothing but net in the fourth. "But, coach has been doing a good job talking to me, telling me to maintain my defensive focus because as a shooter when that ball’s not going in, obviously you’re not going to have the same motor. He’s just been on me about my motor: 'Whatever happens throughout three quarters keep your motor going because you know in the fourth quarter something good is going to happen for you.'
"I’m still praying, one of these games, Jet’s going to break out and have a big one."
The same pattern unfolded again Tuesday night as the Dallas Mavericks took an 84-81 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Terry was clanging shots everywhere and was 3-of-11 for six points after three quarters. Then the fourth quarter starts, Terry flashes four fingers more familiar in football than basketball, but there's no question that the fourth quarter is Terry time.
He hit 5-of-8 shots for 12 of his 18 points. He actually missed his first shot, a 15-foot jumper, at the 8:44 mark. At the 6:52 mark, the mercury began to rise. Terry hit a 26-foot 3-pointer for a 70-69 lead and then dropped a 19-footer on the next possession for a 72-71 lead. His next three buckets came on four possessions in the final 2:34: a 3-pointer to tie it at 77-77; a 20-foot jumper for a 79-77 lead; and finally a 2-foot pull-up jumper for an 84-81 lead with 12.9 seconds to go.
It's become an insane pattern with no explanations. Terry said defenses aren't changing things up on him once the fourth quarter arrives and that he just can't put a finger on reasons for his sudden surges after such dramatic struggles game after game after game.
"I’m being [guarded] tough all game, but there’s something about the fourth quarter," Terry said. "I don’t know if the other teams are a little tired or -- I just don’t know. But, for some reason I’m just getting little cracks and that’s all it takes. It just takes one make to really get the wheels turning."
The Mavs will take Terry's late-game flurries, but they'll need more consistency out of their second-leading scorer now that Caron Butler is lost for the season with a knee injury. Butler was on Terry's heels in scoring average and was emerging as the second threat behind Dirk Nowitzki.
But, in a similar situation as to when Josh Howard missed extended stretches, Terry again must increase his scoring, and doing it over the course of the game would be a more helpful, and saner, way to go.