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Friday, December 3, 2010
Bench guys: Who is best sixth man?

By Jeff Caplan

During the offseason, Jason Terry vowed to reclaim the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, which he won in 2008-09. But, after a month of the season, which Dallas Mavericks reserve is more deserving of the honor, Terry or Shawn Marion?

Terry got off to a hot sizzling start and was in the starting lineup for the first five games. Marion, in his 12th season and first coming off the bench, was a bit slow out of the gates, but has since come on strong. The 6-foot-7 forward is giving the Mavs scoring of late (15.4 points per game in the past five games), rebounding (6.2 on the season) and he remains the team's more reliable perimeter defender.

Since Terry scored 26 points on Nov. 15 in a win over New Orleans to take his scoring average to a season-best 19.7 points a game, his scoring has gradually dropped off. Entering tonight's game at the Utah Jazz, Terry remains second on the team in scoring, but at 15.8 points a game. His field-goal percentage has dropped to 45.8 percent and his red-hot 3-point shooting, has dipped below 40 percent t0 38.5, obviously still a high percentage, and he continues to be a go-to guy in clutch situations.

But, since Terry dropped 13 field goals in consecutive games on Nov. 20 and 23, he's made 17 in the past five games and it's been eight games since he's scored more than 16 points. Twice in that span he's finished in single digits.

Still, it hasn't hurt the Mavs, who go for an eighth consecutive win against the Jazz, who are also trying to win an eighth straight. While Dallas would like to see Terry's shooting percentage (35.7 percent in the last six games) rise, others are picking up the scoring slack, including Marion, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea and even DeShawn Stevenson.

One season Avery Johnson used Terry and Jerry Stackhouse off the bench and called the 6A and 6B. That's the situation Rick Carlisle has this season, and so far it is working just fine.