OKLAHOMA CITY – Dallas sixth man Jason Terry picked right up where he left off in last season’s playoffs: shooting the ball well and making bold promises.
Terry scored 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting in the Mavericks’ Game 1 loss Saturday night to the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Terry, who prides himself on being a clutch performer, was shut down by Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter.
Not only did Terry go scoreless in the fourth quarter, he hardly touched the ball. He attempted only one shot despite his sizzling shooting up to that point.
“Doesn’t even matter,” Terry said after the Mavs’ practice Sunday. “I bet I get touches this next fourth quarter. I will. That’s all I can tell you. I can’t tell you other than that. And you know when I say it, it’s going to happen.”
Terry carries that kind of credibility after he backed up his big words against the Miami Heat in last season’s NBA Finals.
After being shut out in the fourth quarter of the Mavs’ Games 1 and 3 losses, Terry’s response was to puff out his chest and challenge LeBron James, who the Heat used to defend Dirk Nowitzki’s closing sidekick in crunch time.
“Let’s see him do that for seven games,” Terry said the day before Game 4.
The rest of the story is part of Mavs lore. Terry scored eight points in the fourth quarter of a comeback win in Game 4. He had eight points in the final 3:23 of the Game 5, including a game-tying 3 and a deep dagger over James. And Terry scored a game-high 27 points in the clinching Game 6.
If Terry talks the talk and walks the walk against King James, you think he’s going to back down from Westbrook?
“Whoever they throw, it doesn’t matter,” Terry said. “We’ll have success.”
Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds. The Mavs spent significant time during Saturday’s film session discussing how to get Terry free if the ridiculously quick Westbrook continues denying him all over the floor during crunch time.
“I can do some things to get Jet a little more involved,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who mentioned that the Mavs need to have better balance instead of just going to Nowitzki every possession down the stretch.
“We have to figure out different ways to get Jet in different positions to get the ball to be successful,” point guard Jason Kidd said. “We expect to see that tomorrow. Hopefully we can get him in the right spot and hopefully he’s still hot. He had a great game, and it was our fault that we couldn’t get him the ball in that fourth quarter.”
Westbrook had a lot to do with it, too. Terry promises that won’t be a trend.