Jason Terry backs hot play with bold words

DALLAS -- Jason Terry entered this season vowing to re-claim the Sixth Man of the Year Award that Jamal Crawford took away last season. After a sizzling February so far, Terry thinks he's positioned himself in front.

"I put a stranglehold back on that Sixth Man title," Terry said after Monday's practice, "and hopefully pretty soon people will start talking about how [I'm] the best sixth man in the business again. Look what I’ve been able to do in the month of February. Pretty consistent."

Terry, along with J.J. Barea, have led a huge charge by the Mavericks' bench. Terry is averaging 18.1 points on 47.4 percent shooting (45-of-95) in February. He's hit 10-of-26 (38.4 percent) from 3-point range, although a big 6-of-8 night at Denver Nuggets helped bolster that number.

But there's no denying that Terry has stepped up his scoring. He slumped after a strong stretch earlier in the season marked by torried shooting in the fourth quarter. Excluding Saturday's cool-down in Houston (2-of-7, seven points) that snapped a season-high of four consecutive games with 20 points or more, Terry's as hot as he's been all season.

Behind Terry, Barea and Shawn Marion, the Mavs' bench is crushing their opponents. The bench scored 72 points at Denver, a league high this season and, according to hoopsstats.com, the Mavs' bench leads the league in point-differential.

"As a whole our bench, we’re not getting talked about a lot, but pretty soon people will start noticing," Terry said. "We’re second to none. We’re the best bench in basketball. You look at what J.J.’s been able to do with his penetration, the impact that Trix [Marion] makes on both ends of the floor and then my ability to score baskets at will off the bench, I don’t see any other team doing that."

As for Barea's impact, really since Jan. 1 when he's become a highly confident scorer, Terry kept the bold comments rolling. Asked when Barea will start to get more respect, Terry answered: "After we get to the [NBA] Finals this year and win it all and then they’ll realize what all he means to this team."