After the Mavericks had allowed an 11-point third quarter lead to become an 11-point fourth quarter deficit late Thursday night in Phoenix, they were able to gather themselves and make one final push in the game’s final three minutes. Dallas had fought back to within two, and had possession of the ball with 15.4 seconds remaining.
That’s a time when typically, Jason Terry would be on the floor for the Mavericks, having proven time and again capable of knocking down big shots when the opportunity was presented. But he couldn’t do it from the bench, which is where he sat watching for the game’s final 7:33, while Rodrigue Beaubois got two good looks at tying the game, neither of which went down.
“Coach’s decision,” head coach Rick Carlisle said afterward, when asked why Roddy got those minutes usually reserved for Terry. Carlisle repeated the two-word answer twice more when asked what may have gone into that decision.
It might have had something to do with Terry allowing Shannon Brown to fly in untouched for a powerful putback slam dunk that put an exclamation point on Phoenix’s comeback, and pushed the Suns lead to double digits for the first time just over four minutes into the fourth. Carlisle had words for Terry as he went to the bench for the ensuing timeout, and Terry didn’t see the floor for the rest of the game.
Predictably, Terry wasn’t pleased.
“What do you think my thoughts are about not being on the court? Are you kidding me?” he said afterward. “You know how I feel if I’m not on the court when it’s time to win the game.
“I can’t check myself in and out of games. You got to ask the person that didn’t have me in the game. Ask him his thoughts. What I think don’t matter, really. I’m not trying to be a smart aleck. I’m just telling you the situation. I root my teammates on and wish we could have come out with the victory. It didn’t happen.”
The Mavericks are struggling right now, and have lost six of their last eight; the last thing they need is a locker-room issue brewing. But Carlisle is optimistic that his team will find a way to stick together.
“This team, when things get tough, the history is, our guys have responded,” Carlisle said. “But we need everybody. We can’t have one single guy on that bench not pulling his weight. Otherwise, things can go downhill quick.”
Thursday night in Phoenix, at least in Carlisle’s eyes, that single guy was Terry.