HOUSTON (AP) -- Jason Terry might never pass enough to earn
favorable comparisons to Dallas' previous point guard. That's OK
with the Mavericks, as long as Terry keeps scoring the way he did
in Game 4.
With Dirk Nowitzki in another slump and Houston's Tracy McGrady
suddenly struggling after scoring virtually at will, Terry took
over in the fourth quarter to rescue the Mavericks from the
bleakest of deficits.
The unheralded point guard scored a season-high 32 points,
including a 3-pointer with 26.9 seconds left, and Michael Finley
added 18, rallying the Mavericks from another late deficit in a
97-93 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
"I wouldn't consider 'Jet' a classic point guard," said
Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, who was exactly that during his
16-year NBA career. "But he gets the job done."
The victory evened the best-of-seven, first-round series at two
games apiece. Game 5 is Monday night in Dallas.
The Mavericks might want to petition the NBA to hold the game
elsewhere, because home-court advantage has been a disadvantage in
this series. The road team has won all the games in this matchup.
"Hopefully, home will be a safe haven at some point in this
series," Mavericks guard Jerry Stackhouse said. "I think the
pressure has been on us and now that the series is even, the
pressure should be about the same."
While 14 teams in NBA history have come back from 0-2 deficits --
most recently last season when the Lakers beat San Antonio -- only
two teams have done it in a seven-game series after losing the
first two games at home. The 1994 Rockets did it against Phoenix,
and the 1969 Lakers against the San Francisco Warriors.
Dallas rallied from two games down against Utah in the first
round in 2001, but both losses came on the road. These Mavericks
came to Houston knowing they could win on the road, having won a
franchise-best 29 games away from home.
The Mavericks had looked dazed by the intensity of the
postseason in the first two games of the series. Other than
Nowitzki and Finley, they lacked playoff experience, and were led
by a rookie coach in Johnson, who took over for Don Nelson in the
final month of the season.
The Rockets, meanwhile, had the league's oldest team and a star
in McGrady, who was hoping to making it past the first round for
the first time in his eight-year career.
It showed -- McGrady averaged 31 points in the first two games
and Houston stole the first two games in Dallas.
Then, the Mavericks traveled to Houston, where the Rockets twice
squandered leads in the fourth quarter to lose all the momentum
they earned away from home.
"It's very disappointing, the way we finished these last two
games," Rockets guard David Wesley said. "It's two blown
McGrady led the Rockets with 36 points on 13-of-26 shooting, but
came up short down the stretch in Game 4. He had only two points in
the fourth quarter, missing all but one of his last five shots.
He played a huge role in Houston's late collapse, firing up a
couple of terrible shots in the last minute and failing to hold on
to a rebound under Dallas' basket with the Rockets down by two
points with 11.4 seconds left.
"I just think that right now, everybody wants it so bad we're
just not staying poised," McGrady said. "Right now, those guys
want it more than us."
The Mavericks were led by Terry, a six-year veteran whose first
playoff experience came with Dallas. He was often derided for not
being what former Dallas player Steve Nash (now an MVP candidate
with Phoenix) is: a pass-first, pass-second and shoot later point
But Dallas needed his scoring ability with Nowitzki resuming his
series-long struggles following a 28-point performance in Game 3.
He finished 18 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
"We had to take some pressure off of Dirk," Terry said. "I
was just being aggressive. I wanted to persevere."
Terry was nearly unstoppable, scoring eight points during a 15-2
spurt midway through the third quarter that gave the Mavericks a
77-72 lead and briefly silenced the raucous crowd of 18,211.
McGrady quickly had the fans of their feet again, making a pair
of free throws, hitting a 3 from the corner as he fell out of
bounds and forcing Stackhouse into a turnover to end the quarter.
McGrady then made his only basket of the fourth midway through
the period, pushing Houston to an 88-82 lead and seemingly
deflating the Mavs' chances.
But Terry hit a 3, Erick Dampier put back his own miss and
Finley made a couple of jumpers to put Dallas up 91-88.
Terry delivered his final blow on the next possession, losing
his grip on the ball as he tried to drive around McGrady. The ball
squirted high in the air and Nowitzki tapped it back out to Terry,
who calmly knocked down a 25-footer to give the Mavericks a
"I knew it was good as soon as it left my hands," Terry said.
"It's something you dream about as a kid on the playground. This
is what the NBA is all about."
It's only the fifth time in NBA playoff history that the
road team has won the first four games. ... Terry tied a Mavericks
playoff record with six 3-pointers. Nick Van Exel also did it
against Sacramento in 2003. ... The Rockets made the first lineup
change of the series, starting Scott Padgett at power forward
instead of Ryan Bowen. They combined for seven points and four
rebounds in seven minutes. ... Rockets center Yao Ming scored 20
points and had five blocks despite being limited to 25 minutes
because of foul trouble. ... Dampier, Yao's counterpart, fouled out
and scored only two points.