Jason Terry unfazed by quiet finish
Shut down after fast start, Jet remains confident and fired up for next opportunity
OKLAHOMA CITY -- In a glum Dallas Mavericks locker room where a sweaty Shawn Marion shook his head in silence as he slowly walked to the shower, and where Vince Carter spoke in a whisper to express his displeasure with another one that got away, and where Ian Mahinmi disappointingly explained how a sure fourth-quarter dunk became a Kevin Durant block and then an Oklahoma City Thunder surge, there stood a beacon of positivity and hope in Jason Terry.
Consider "Jet" undaunted and unfazed and, oh, maybe just mildly impressed with the young Thunder's lock-down defense Saturday on his hot hand and another crunch-time spoiler they slapped on the defending champs, this time 99-98 on Durant's bucket with 1.4 to go, this time in the playoffs.
Dallas couldn't nurse a 92-85 lead with 3:23 remaining to victory, and Terry, who hit his first six shots in his first eight minutes he was on the floor, couldn't even get a look in the final 10:51 with stout point guard Russell Westbrook up in his grill.
"Not concerned," Terry said, not smugly or arrogantly, but matter-of-factly. "Again, I've been doing it all year in the fourth quarter. I'll get another opportunity.
"This is eight years of playoffs for me. If you're going to get too high or too low off any game, then you're in the wrong sport. This is a game of mistakes, of possessions, and we got to come out again on Monday and get one."
And then he told basketball fans everywhere to buckle up and enjoy what's ahead.
"This is going to be a great series," Terry said. "It's going to be one for the classics, and every game is going to come down to one or two possessions."
As positive a spin as Terry put on this Game 1 loss, it hurt. Dallas had it, but in near-carbon copies of the two regular-season games on the Thunder's home floor, the veteran Mavs couldn't close, and for the second time Durant walked off with arms held high and his teammates mobbing him.
So much of Game 1 had been about the two sidekicks, Terry for the Mavs and Westbrook for the Thunder. Both were carrying their cold-shooting stars. Terry forced the action early for 14 first-half points, bolting by James Harden practically at will to get close looks and then popping the 3-ball with lethal efficiency.
Seven-foot driving bank shot.
Two-foot driving layup.
Twenty-four-foot 3 and then a dead-eye, pull-up jumper from the arc on a 2-on-1 fastbreak that was later reviewed and ruled a 2.
Four shots in four minutes. Nine points in the opening quarter.
"We knew going into this series that he's the wild card," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He's the guy that can get 20 to 25 points quickly."
And then Brooks, who gets little credit in this series for his coaching chops against the Mavs' Rick Carlisle, made the key move of the game.
"The only adjustment they made," Terry said, "was they did put Westbrook on me."
And after his 6-of-7 start for 14 points at the half, Terry finished 8-of-10 with 20. His final bucket came at the 1:25 mark of the third, his second bomb of the period that put Dallas up 71-66.
His final shot attempt came at the 10:51 mark of the fourth. Carlisle called himself out.
"They were playing him hard," Carlisle said. "Listen, that's my job to get him more looks when he's going good. That's my responsibility."
Westbrook wouldn't let it happen. More rugged than Harden, the 6-foot-3 Westbrook can drum up a nasty disposition, and he was a dominant force at both ends in the second half and particularly the fourth quarter while defending the Mavs' fourth-quarter man.
"We've got to find a way to get Jet the ball," Nowitzki said. "He had the hot hand, and we couldn't even get him the ball in the fourth quarter. They denied him everywhere. We've got to counter that.
"You've got to give them credit. They really got the ball out of his hands. I hate to waste a game with Jet like that. He was on fire."
Not that Terry seemed to mind. He's been here before, as recently as the last playoff series this team played. Terry got shut down by LeBron James in Games 1 and 2, then stepped up to the mic to challenge the "Chosen One" and crowned "The King" the rest of the way with mesmerizing shooting.
"You can look at that and nitpick and coulda, woulda, but that's over," Terry said. "I mean, what can you do? But next game, if you're in that same situation, then you can make your adjustments, try to do something different. As far as harping on it and worrying about what could have been, we'll let y'all do that.
"For us, I'm fired up. I'm ready to play. I wish I could play tonight."