Jason Terry, whose voice was coming back after a battle with hoarseness, had a told-you-so moment Saturday night in Houston.
Jet had just scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, hitting the game-winning shot on a pull-up jumper in the final minute. It was the kind of clutch performance Terry prides himself in – and precisely why he was so irate about riding pine with the game on the line a couple of times earlier this month.
“I told everyone that I have to be on the floor in those situations,” Terry said as he dressed in the Toyota Center visitors locker room. “If I’m not, I’m going to be very disappointed, because I feel that if I’m out there and our team is close, we’ll have a very good chance to win.”
Did Terry remind coach Rick Carlisle of that?
“He knows,” Terry said. “We talk every day since we had our little episode.”
Their “little episode” is a reference to Terry being benched while Rodrigue Beaubois missed a pair of potential game-tying shots March 8 in Phoenix – and the fireworks that went off in the locker room after that loss.
Just to be clear, Carlisle had good reason to bench Terry against the Suns. Carlisle has never elaborated on why he made the “coach’s decision” – that’s all he would say about it – but it was obvious that he was disgusted by Terry’s poor effort when the ball wasn’t in his hands. Carlisle called a timeout after Terry failed to box out Phoenix’s Shannon Brown, and Terry didn’t step foot on the court again after Brown’s ridiculously easy putback dunk.
Carlisle wasn’t the only one upset at Terry. Dirk Nowitzki has also acknowledged having a heated exchange with his longest-tenured teammate that night.
However, Carlisle and Nowitzki readily acknowledge that the Mavs need Terry on the court during closing time to be a legitimate contender.
Terry provided further evidence by carrying the Mavs in crunch time Saturday night in Houston, when Nowitzki didn’t have a bucket for the final 11:10 of regulation and all of overtime with the Rockets opting to hug him on pick-and-rolls. The case had been closed long before Terry scored 11 points in the final 7:11 of the back-and-forth battle between teams scrapping for playoff positioning.
“That’s his quarter. That’s his reputation,” Carlisle said. “He takes pride in it. Our guys look for him, and he’s a different breed of cat. There aren’t a lot of guys that want that responsibility. We’re fortunate that we have two of them with him and Dirk – and [Jason] Kidd, if you want to throw a third guy in.”
Added Nowitzki: “That’s why he’s one of the best clutch players in this league.”
Terry, who talks as freely as he shoots, couldn’t have said it better himself.