<
>

Mavs need Terry to start and finish strong

There is no doubt that inserting Jason Terry into the starting lineup played a major role in the Mavericks solving their first-quarter woes.

The Mavs had led after the first quarter in only one of the previous 10 games before Terry became a starter. They've entered the second quarter with a lead in each of the five games since then, with Terry averaging 8.2 points on 64 percent shooting in the opening frame.

The question: Does Terry starting affect the Mavs' ability to finish games? The statistical evidence on that issue is inconclusive.

Terry, who typically is at his best late in games, has had a pair of high-scoring fourth quarters since becoming a starter. He had nine points in each of the fourth quarters of wins over the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks.

But Terry has failed to get a field goal in the other three fourth quarters during his stretch as a starter. His scoreless fourth quarter in the 50-point rout of the Knicks obviously isn't a concern, but he went a combined 0-of-7 from the floor in the final frames of losses to the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns.

That certainly doesn't prove that Terry can't be a prolific crunch-time scorer when he starts. It does indicate, however, how much the Mavs rely on him to fill that role.