DALLAS -- Less than 13 hours after getting clocked under the eye socket and less than 24 hours before undergoing surgery to determine how badly his left orbital bone is cracked, Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry was his typically optimistic self Thursday.
"Not long," he responded via text message to an inquiry about his absence. Then he added, "Be back soon."
Terry believes the injury suffered Wednesday -- which left him bloody and woozy with his left eye nearly swollen shut and a fracture, courtesy of Corey Brewer's elbow -- won't keep him down long. The streaking Mavericks, reinvigorated not only by the All-Star break trade but also by the resurgence of Terry's shooting stroke, can only hope.
Early indications are Terry could miss seven to 10 days following Friday morning's surgery, according to a source. The Mavs, winners of nine of 10 games since the All-Star break and seeking a 10th straight home victory Friday night against Sacramento, know the time frame could grow depending on the severity of the damage, and that won't be known until the surgeons complete their work.
The timing isn't good for Terry, who was finding his rhythm again, averaging 20.8 points on 49.4 percent shooting over the past five games. A streaky 3-point shooter, Terry is the Mavs' only dependable scoring source off the bench, and the longer he's out, the more it will tax a starting lineup that already logs heavy minutes. Jason Kidd sat out Wednesday's game simply to rest.
"His history is that he's played through injuries many times before, and frequently he's come back earlier from injuries than people expected," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Terry. "He's an extremely tough guy, and I know in this case he'll get back as soon as he can. But this is a difficult injury in a sensitive part of the body. We've got to make sure we take the proper precautions and don't put him in any harm's way in the short term.
"In the meantime, it's definitely a tough loss for us."
Somehow, Terry re-entered Wednesday's game after a short visit to the locker room. He returned for the final minute of the third quarter and played all of the fourth with a wad of gauze stuffed up his left nostril. He scored seven of his team-high 26 points in the final quarter.
That brand of pain tolerance could serve Terry well. It did last season when he needed just three weeks to come back from surgery to repair a fracture in his left hand that threatened to keep him out six weeks.
Time frames for recovery from a fractured orbital bone vary upon the severity. Toronto's Hedo Turkoglu missed just two games last month after suffering a small, nondisplaced fracture of the orbital bone under his right eye that did not require surgery.
Surely Mavericks fans remember Game 2 of the 2005 conference semifinals when guard Joe Johnson, then of the Phoenix Suns, suffered a displaced fracture of the left orbital bone on a flagrant foul by Jerry Stackhouse. Johnson underwent surgery the next morning, May 12, and returned May 28 for Game 3 against San Antonio in the Western Conference finals.
The good news for the Mavs is their March schedule is light, both in dates and playoff-caliber competition. Their next six games are against Sacramento, Chicago, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Chicago again. Only the Bulls own a winning record (31-29).
"The big thing is we've played with injuries, guys missing a couple games, so this isn't anything new to us," Kidd said. "It's something we look forward to, giving some guys some minutes. We look at it that 'Jet' gets a little rest because he's been logging a lot of minutes, too. It's a two-way street in a sense; it gives other guys opportunity, and also gives Jet time to catch his breath and be ready to go once the playoffs start."
To that extent, increased minutes for rookie Roddy Beaubois, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson could pay dividends down the road. The Mavs are not expected to re-sign Von Wafer to a second 10-day contract after his current one expires after Friday's game or look for other help elsewhere.
Beaubois, who tied his season high with 17 points off the bench Wednesday, and Barea currently back up Kidd at point guard. Both have played shooting guard, with Barea making 16 of his 18 starts this season alongside Kidd. At times Wednesday night, Beaubois and Barea played together.
Stevenson has showed he can be a defensive presence after starting two games during the win streak in place of Caron Butler.
"That's a hard role to fill; that guy gets 16 points off the bench on any given night," Stevenson said of Terry. "We just have to go out there and play hard, me, Roddy and J.J. If we can do that, not scoringwise, just trying to be vets out there and keep the pace going; but him being out is going to be tough for us."
Butler, averaging 15.9 points in eight games with the Mavs, helps to cushion the loss of Terry's production. Kidd also can help the cause if he can continue his surprising scoring surge -- he has double figures in eight of his past nine games.
"I'm just going to try to continue to do what I've been doing since the break, be aggressive, when shots present themselves take it, but nothing out of the ordinary," Kidd said. "I'm not going to try to make up Jet's points per game. There might be a couple more shots, but the big thing is we've got a lot of guys who can step in. We're not looking for someone to fill Jet's shoes. We're just looking for somebody to come in and be aggressive and play hard, and everything else will take care of itself."