DALLAS – Jet never really got off the runway during his return to the American Airlines Center.
Jason Terry, the man coach Rick Carlisle refers to as Mavericks royalty, received a standing ovation when he checked into the game but never made much of an impact for the Boston Celtics. Playing in Dallas for the first time since essentially being forced to leave in free agency, Terry was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and had as many turnovers as field goals.
“It was a good feeling, but I was solely locked in on the game,” Terry said of the warm welcome from Mavs fans. “It was good to see everyone, but I’m a Celtic now.”
It’s been a tough week for Terry. People are still buzzing about LeBron James’ and-1 dunk over him Monday. He went scoreless in Wednesday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets. And he was a nonfactor against his former team, when he had about 100 friends and family members in the stands.
“We have great respect for Jet and what he can do in a game,” Carlisle said. “I think our guys just gave him the respect he deserves and really played him hard. They just tried to make it tough. He got some shots. I’m not going to say we shut him down or anything like that, but guys battled him all night and that’s what we needed to do.”
Terry exchanged postgame hugs with Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Carlisle and a few former teammates, but he wasn’t in a good mood after the Celtics’ third straight loss.
“All I was worried about was getting a win,” Terry said. “We have to end this road trip on a good note. Right now we’re just not getting it done.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ bounce-back game:
1. Dirk’s workload: Rick Carlisle considers Dirk Nowitzki’s recent low shot totals “an overblown conversation” – and Dirk concurs -- but the coach posed one question when asked about the subject.
“Did he have more shots than Mike James?” Carlisle said.
James – 2-7 FG, seven points, six assists
Dirk – 8-15 FG, 22 points
“That’s good. That’s good,” Carlisle said. “It’s an awareness that we have to have. You guys can all see what happens. When we slow down and start calling plays, teams lock into us. It’s a harder game for us to play because of how we’re set up. We have to have an awareness. We have to involve Dirk in as many things as we possibly can without having to call plays.
“A lot of attention is on the point guards for that, but really it’s a responsibility for everybody on that.”
A big part of it is on Nowitzki, especially when the Mavs succeed at pushing the pace.
“I ran to the box a little more early in transition,” he said. “That’s what I’ve got to do if things are not going well. When our flow is going well and we’re scoring, then I’m fine. We can swing it and pick and roll it. But if I feel like it’s getting into a hole a little bit, then maybe I just have to run to the box and demand the ball a little bit more.”
2. OJ vs. KG?: It’s nothing new for Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett, the league’s premier jaw-jacker, to exchange a little trash talk.
But O.J. Mayo got involved this time, stepping between the two (along with a ref) and telling Garnett, “Back off my man!” Not that Nowitzki noticed.
“He said he had my back,” Dirk said, “but I’ve got to look at the film to make sure he was actually there.”
As far as the KG-Dirk trash talk, Nowitzki called it “nothing” to some of the on-court conversations over the years between the two legends, power forwards who will get to the Hall of Fame with completely different games.
“He’s the man. He’s just a fierce competitor,” Nowitzki said. “We had a few words there, but actually if you go way back, we got into it more than it was today. That was the soft version.”
Nowitzki could have reminded Garnett of their lone playoff meeting, when the Mavs swept the T-Wolves in three games with 23-year-old Dirk putting up 30-15, 31-15 and 39-17, but it didn’t come up in the heat of Friday’s moment.
Mayo (10 points, nine assists) also managed to get the last word on Garnett. After hitting a dagger 3, a mismatched Mayo stole a pass intended for a posted-up Garnett with a little more than a minute remaining, then made sure KG knew about it.
3. Matrix reloaded: Welcome back, Shawn Marion.
After eight games out due to a strained calf, Marion was up to his old tricks, putting up 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in 31 minutes. He also was the key to keeping Paul Pierce (16 ponts) in check and guarded St. Patrick’s Day star Jeff Green (10 points) in spots.
“I was able to do a lot of things I normally do,” Marion said.
That’s good news to the Mavs, whose recent rebounding struggles turned around, beating the Celtics by double digits on the glass.
“We missed his abilities as a basketball player,” Carlisle said. “He’s one of our best athletes. His activity is something you can’t duplicate with any other normal player. He’s just a very unique guy.”