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Celtics guard Jason Terry breaks out the JET celebration.BOSTON -- It really was only a matter of time for Jason Terry.
After three subpar performances to begin the season, Terry -- or JET, if you prefer -- finally took off Wednesday night, providing a needed spark on both ends off the bench as the Celtics overcame the Washington Wizards for the second consecutive game for a 100-94 overtime victory.
Terry scored a season-high 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting, adding three assists and some important defense down the stretch of both regulation and the extra session.
"Yeah, they've been begging for it, man, and I was finally able to give it to them tonight," Terry happily proclaimed of his trademark plane celebration he broke out at the Garden for the first time during regular-season play. "The JET don't just come out for nothing. I mean, we're losing, you won't see no runway, none of that. But, we needed a spark, we needed some energy, and the fans responded well to it."
The 16 points weren't the only season-best for Terry, as his 15 shots and 32 minutes also served as highs for the young campaign. Terry admitted afterward he might have been a bit too reluctant in the Celtics' first three games, and credited a renewed aggression for his performance.
"I thought for the most part, I was looking to be on the offensive," Terry said. "If I didn't have a shot, I was making the pass, so that's my role. My role is clear here. It's to be aggressive and look for shot first. Guys are on me, they're going to continue to stay on me. But it's something that I'll be more and more comfortable as we play more games."
The first half did little to suggest a breakout game was in order for Terry, who managed just two points on 1-of-4 shooting, meandering through many of the same struggles that had plagued him over the team's first three outings. But the second half saw him emerge with a renewed vigor, and he scored 14 points over the final two frames, taking the scoring pressure off of the likes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
His reputation for hitting important shots rang true, as a difficult pull-up 3-pointer with just under 5 minutes left to beat the shot clock pushed a slim one-point Boston lead back to a four-point edge -- a crucial margin given the back-and-forth of Wednesday's bout.
But Terry earned his keep on the other end as well. Head coach Doc Rivers elected to run Terry alongside Rajon Rondo, Pierce, Garnett and Brandon Bass as part of his finishing crew, and though the offense was expected, the defensive performance wasn't.
Shortly after burying the 3-pointer, Terry saw his own man skirt to the other side of the floor, but he elected to hang back and join Garnett in a double-team of Kevin Seraphin, forcing a turnover that helped lead to two Rondo free throws on the other end.
"On this team, that's what it's about," Terry said. "That's what we hang our hat on, is on the defensive end of the court. And you can see, when the game was on the line and we needed to get stops, we've turned up to another level."
Rivers joked afterward that it was the first time in Terry's career that defense kept him in the lineup.
“I thought [Terry] was terrific," said Rivers. "And you know it’s funny, we left Jason in because he was playing great defense. That may be the first in his career, that’s ever been said about Jason Terry. But he was terrific. I thought the ball pressure -- and he did a lot of good things defensively. And when he does that with his shot, we keep him on the floor because he gives you a shooter’s chance all the night. So it was really good to just see him -- he’s getting it offensively. I’m not that concerned about that.”
But his teammates were quick to add praise for Terry's defense.
"JT came in and I thought did some small things," said Garnett. "He’s trying to get a rhythm ... but veterans, who have been in the thick, know how to win, overtimes and extra minutes, you want your best players in there. I thought he did small things: communicating, rotating, knew what rotations to help on -- things like that, man, you’re playing on all cylinders and reacting, that’s really where you want to be at."
Terry is hoping Wednesday will serve as a launching pad for a more consistent string of performances moving forward. Though pleased with the part he played in the team's win, he still stressed the need to continue improving.
"Well, the energy level was definitely a lot better," Terry said. "Definitely felt a little more comfortable out there on both ends of the floor. But for me it's about making shots. If this was golf, I thought I left a couple birdies out there from deep tonight. But, it'll come."