Elder Jason Terry puts Mavs on his back
At 34, Terry doesn't face many opponents that can truly be called a big brother and that was especially true in the final 20 minutes of regulation and overtime Sunday. The Spurs exclusively relied on a crop of four unheralded youngsters with a combined nine NBA seasons under their belts -- plus Matt Bonner -- in place of an ineffective starting five to rally from 18 down and take a nine-point lead and nearly pull off the win.
Terry tied it up at 91-91 with a clutch, 16-foot pull-up jumper with 0.5 seconds showing on the clock to give him 30 in regulation. Danny Green's apparent game-winner at the buzzer was overruled and we went to overtime. Terry had four of Dallas' 10 points in OT, all in the final 42 seconds for just enough cushion to secure a wild, 101-100, victory in which Spurs coach Gregg Popovich stuck with his hot-shooting reserves from the 2:44 mark of the third quarter on (only little-known starter Kawhi Leonard checked in for about a second late in OT).
"No, not all," Terry said when asked if he was surprised Popovich didn't go back to his starters. "Again, that’s just him being him."
And so Terry also said he wasn't surprised that Popovich chose to defend him in the same fashion that he did in the Spurs' 93-71 romp in San Antonio on Jan. 5, and that was to run Terry off the 3-point arc and force him to make plays off the dribble.
Terry hit for 12 of his 34 and 12 of the Mavs' 22 points in the near-fatal fourth. He hit the lone 3-pointer he took, which remarkably was just his third 3-ball attempted on the night. He took what the defense presented to him and that meant putting the ball on the floor, being aggressive, taking the shot when it was there and also dishing four assists.
"I was locked in," Terry said. "The first time we played San Antonio, I was very disappointed and I watched the film. There were some shots that I know that I make, and I said if I continue to get those same looks and opportunities then I will be aggressive and take them, and they gave me the same looks. That’s Popovich, man. He’s a mastermind, but with him he’s very consistent in his approach and tonight he gave me the same looks I had in Game 1."
Only in that game, Terry had 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting. He also made just one 3 on five attempts.
"They ran me off the [3-point] line and when a team does that to you you have to make that adjustment on the fly," Terry said. "You have to know how they’re going to play you and I got to the paint. I got a couple of short mid-range shots to go for me."
His game-tying, mid-range shot was a thing of beauty. Rodrigue Beaubois blocked Gary Neal's driving attempt and it landed in Dirk Nowitzki's hands. A sure sign that the big fella is feeling better came when he broke from the crowd and dribbled up court. Once he got to around mid-court, it looked like he tried to call timeout, all the while bobbling the ball and maybe even traveling before he got rid of it to Terry.
"No, he didn’t travel," Terry assured. "I was worried about the over-and-back call, he was getting close to halfcourt. But I didn’t think he traveled. Smart play on his part."
Apparently so as Terry dribbled to the elbow, pulled up and hit the shot that prevented an awful loss and one long, quiet flight to Phoenix.
"I took a glance at the clock and time was running down," Terry said. "I wanted to get to my spot where I knew I could get a shot off and the rest, I guess, was history."
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