Commentary

Mavs depend on Terry's home success

Team's performance at AAC often tied to that of their reigning Sixth Man of the Year

Updated: January 16, 2010, 1:22 AM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- If you want to blame somebody for the Dallas Mavericks' maddening home inconsistency this season, start with Jason Terry.

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year readily admits that he's been a big part of the problem.

His home shooting woes this season mystify Terry. However, he's confident that he'll revert to form at some point and start lighting up the American Airlines Center on a regular basis again.

For the Mavs' sake, he better.

"If I struggle, it's going to be a long night for us," Terry said after a 21-point, five-assist performance in Friday night's 99-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Mavs' only win on a three-game homestand. "I take that responsibility on my shoulders."

Terry is shooting a shade under 40 percent from the floor at home this season, a puzzling reversal of his career trend. He's hit at a high-40s or low-50s clip at the AAC in his previous five seasons as a Maverick.

It's no coincidence that the Mavs' home winning percentage is by far the worst since the man they call "Jet" landed in Dallas. The Mavericks are 13-7 at home, equaling or exceeding their loss total at the AAC in three of the previous four seasons.

Just look at the Mavs' last four home games for an indication of how important Terry's offensive efficiency is to the team's success.

In the two wins, Terry averaged 23.5 points, 6.5 assists and shot 53.3 percent from the floor.

In the two losses, Terry averaged 11.5 points, 3.0 assists and shot 26.9 percent from the floor.

"We need Jet," said Dirk Nowitzki, who had another dominant performance with 32 points.

"If we're going to take this to the next level, we need Jet to be aggressive and make shots. That's his M.O., that's what he's been doing his whole career. We need him to be aggressive and be himself and look for the shot."

Coach Rick Carlisle makes it clear that scoring isn't all the Mavericks need from Terry.

Terry has never been known as a shutdown defender, but Carlisle has hammered on him to improve at that end. Carlisle is much more concerned about Terry's defense than his offense, no matter his poor shooting percentages.

"He's got to understand that he's not a guy that's out there to put the ball in the basket," Carlisle said. "We need him and we need everybody else to buy into the importance of defense. It's staring us in the face. It's like a freight train coming at your head."

Terry has gotten that message. But it's also clear to him that Nowitzki needs a consistent scoring sidekick, especially in the clutch, for the Mavs to be legitimate contenders.

That happened Friday night, when Terry had 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting in the fourth quarter. (OK, so he missed a pair of free throws with seconds remaining, making the Mavs sweat until the final buzzer. Still a pretty impressive performance.)

Terry firmly believes these kinds of nights will be the norm again soon. He figures he puts in too much work -- extra shooting, extra film study -- for his struggles to continue. His solution is to stay aggressive.

"I'm going to put it all together," Terry said. "Whatever it may be, I just know the percentages are going to come back to me. I'm going to get on a nice streak here soon."

If that's the case, the mystery of the Mavericks' home struggles will suddenly be solved.

Tim MacMahon covers the Dallas Mavericks for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag".

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE NBA HEADLINES