Can Peja Stojakovic be the real X factor?
Between his six-game injury absence in March and some sporadic playing time of late, sometimes one can forget that Stojakovic was added to the team back in January. Take Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers for instance. Through three quarters, Stojakovic had only stepped on the court during a timeout to give up his seat to guys who were playing.
But he got his chance in the fourth quarter and rattled off 10 points in 12 minutes. He followed up Sunday in the runaway against the Phoenix Suns with 17 points in 21 minutes. There's no doubt that Stojakovic can light it up quickly. The only question is how consistent he can become and if he can stay healthy. Having played just 32 games this season, 24 with the Mavs, his 33-year-old legs, despite a nagging knee injury for much of the season, should be pretty fresh.
"I love his approach since he’s been back from the injury," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, referencing Stojakovic's sudden stiff neck last month. "He’s going to be systematic in terms of stepping into shots that are there. You’re talking about a guy that’s been around 13 years. He knows where his bread is buttered. He knows that it’s all about getting in positions for open shots."
And although he seems to go to the extremes with hot and cold spells, add it all up and he's still shooting the 3-ball at 39.4 percent (41-of-104). He can be a tremendous postseason offensive weapon that the Mavs have not possessed outside of Jason Terry. Stojakovic ranks fourth all-time in the NBA with 1,759 3-pointers made, one spot behind Jason Kidd (1,791) and four spots ahead of Terry (1,648).
"You can see a veteran guy like him, regardless of what’s happening with his shooting numbers that night, every time there’s an open shot, it’s get set, look, shoot," Carlisle said. "He keeps stepping into his shots. History and the NBA guide will tell you he’ll hit a lot of them."
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