Thursday, March 8, 2012 Updated: March 9, 8:36 AM ET
Curious choice to sit Jason Terry
By Jean-Jacques Taylor ESPNDallas.com
PHOENIX -- Fourteen seconds left and the game on the line. Common sense says Dirk Nowitzki or Jason Terry is going to take the final shot.
Not on Thursday night at US Airways Center.
Rodrigue Beaubois took the potential game-winner.
First, he missed a floater in the lane with five seconds left. Then he missed an 18-foot jumper from just beyond the free throw line as time expired.
Is Jason Terry missing the Mavs' final possessions against Phoenix the beginning of a bigger issue between the guard and coach Rick Carlisle?
Phoenix Suns 96, Dallas Mavericks 94.
Once again, Dirk, the game's best closer, never came close to getting the last shot.
"You can't always get the ball to your best player," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, "because the other team knows that's what you want to do. That's part of the reason Roddy had such good looks."
As for Jet, he spent the last 14 seconds on the bench.
That's right, one of the best clutch shooters in franchise history spent winning time riding the pine.
So Coach, what was your thought process on keeping Jet glued to the bench at the end of the game?
"Coach's decision," Carlisle said.
Well Coach, what is it that you didn't like about the way Jet was playing?
"Coach's decision," Carlisle reiterated.
Let the speculation begin.
Jet wasn't playing well, shooting only 3-of-7 and scoring six points in a season-low 20 minutes. He missed all three of his 3-point attempts.
When Terry entered the game with 10:58 left, the Mavs trailed 83-78. And when Carlisle took him out three minutes later, the Suns led 90-80.
Coach and player had a brief exchange as Jet headed to the bench. He did not play again.
"You know how I feel when I'm not on the court at the end of the game," Jet said. "I can't check myself in and out of the game. What I think doesn't matter."
This sounds like the beginning of an issue. Remember, Jet wasn't happy in the loss to New Orleans because he played just 23 minutes, made just one of nine shots and scored two points.
And in the loss to Oklahoma City three nights later, Jet read the end of the game situation poorly and wound up missing a baseline jumper as time expired.
All of that was better than not being in the game when the outcome was decided.
"I rooted my teammates on," he said, "and I wish we would've come out with the victory."
Carlisle and Terry need to have a meeting of the minds and figure out where their relationship is headed, and how to make it work. This team isn't good enough to overcome its injuries, the compressed schedule, the obvious chemistry issues and any type of drama involving Jet and Carlisle.
You can dismiss this if you choose, but this team isn't guaranteed a playoff spot. There's nothing in the NBA bylaws that says the defending champion gets a playoff spot regardless of its record.
The Mavs have won only two of the first seven games on this nine-game, 12-day odyssey that began after the All-Star break. They play Sacramento on Friday and Golden State on Saturday.
They will be favored to win each game.
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The Mavs have already lost to 18-win Phoenix, 13-win New Jersey and nine-win New Orleans.
Time is running out for the Mavs to find a rhythm. Only 25 games remain, and the Mavs are regularly blowing games against teams they're supposed to beat.
Last season, they consistently found ways to win. Now, they don't, and they're only 8-11 on the road.
But whenever a coach keeps one of his best offensive players on the bench at the end of the game, he opens himself up to second-guessing. Especially when it's a player such as Jet, a streaky shooter who always wants the ball at the end of the game.
We've seen Dirk hit game-winners. And we've seen Jet make them.
We haven't seen Roddy do it.
It doesn't mean he can't. Or he won't. It just means he hasn't.
"He loves that situation," Jason Kidd said of Jet.
Jet was clearly frustrated when he left the locker room. But this isn't the time for a pity party.
The Mavs' struggles are bigger than Jet.
But this team needs him playing at a high level to make the playoffs and have an opportunity to defend its championship.