Terry rewarded for role off bench

Updated: April 24, 2009, 8:29 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- Mavericks guard Jason Terry is the best off the bench.

Terry, mostly a full-time starter before taking on a different role the past two seasons, was presented Friday with the NBA sixth man award that goes to the league's top reserve.

"The ability to do it, but also the willingness to embrace it, is something that's got to be a part of it," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "That's who he is. He wants to win and he wants to part of something that's bigger than himself, and that's really what this is all about."

While starting only 11 of his 74 games in the regular season, Terry averaged 19.6 points and 3.4 assists while playing about 34 minutes a game. Only Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd played more minutes for the Mavericks, though Terry usually comes off the bench shooting.

"No doubt, I'm a guy playing with my energy," Terry said. "Instant offense, there are no warmup shots. ... Jumping into the fire, that's a special skill set."

Terry got 111 of 121 first-place votes in the balloting and was the clear winner with 576 points. Denver's J.R. Smith finished second with 155 points and three first-place votes, and New York's Nate Robinson was third with 113 points.

Nowitzki, Kidd and other teammates attended the news conference in which Terry, who is known as JET, was presented the trophy. It came on the day between Games 3 and 4 of the Mavericks' first-round Western Conference playoff series against San Antonio. The Mavericks lead the series 2-1.

"He's been a big part of this team," said Nowitzki, the NBA's MVP two seasons ago. "He's a great guy in the locker room, he's one of our emotional leaders, always firing up the crowd. He's one of the best clutch players I've ever seen."

The only time Terry had a higher scoring average was 2000-01, his second NBA season, when he averaged 19.7 points for Atlanta. That was also better than each of the past 18 sixth-man award winners.

Terry scored 20 points or more in 40 games this season, 33 times when came off the bench. In 26 games, he matched or outscored the opposing bench.

After starting only 27 games as a rookie, Terry started 531 of his 563 games for the Hawks and Mavericks from 2000 to 2007. Terry averaged 15.5 points for Dallas last season, when he started 34 times but was the only Mavericks player to get into every game.

Carlisle remembered the first meeting he had with Terry after taking over as the Dallas coach last summer.

"I wasn't even finished with my first or second sentence and he basically said, 'Hey, whatever you need me to do, I'll do. ... I just want to win,' " Carlisle said. "This award is symbolic of who he is. It's a tremendous tribute to him, what he's about, and also his teammates because these guys have been extremely supportive of him."

Terry is the third Dallas player to win the sixth man award, following Antawn Jamison in 2003-04 and Roy Tarpley in 1987-88.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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