Posted: Monday December 5, 2005 2:48PM; Updated: Monday December 5, 2005 2:48PM
After last year's playoff run, it became apparent that the Dallas Mavericks were going to have to get an All Star-level season from Jason Terry if they wanted to count themselves among the league's elite. Problem was, since his arrival in Dallas before last season, Terry has had a hard time balancing his shoot-first instincts with the ideal type of point guard he thinks people think he should be. That's nonsense, of course, because the reason the Mavericks traded for this guy is because he can put points on the board and put pressure on the defense with his all-around scoring ability. Comparisons to the departed Steve Nash certainly didn't help, but by last May, Terry finally started to get the idea.
He's led one of the league's most efficient offenses to an 11-5 record so far, averaging 17 points on 50 percent shooting on the year. Last week Terry averaged 25.3 points per game, hit 60 percent of his shots from the floor and 58 percent from deep. That's sick stuff, right there. Terry's not passing as much, handing out only 3.8 assists per game this year (including a goose egg in a loss to the Spurs last week), but we reckon he'll figure the rest out as he shuffles along. Something about being in a contract year ...
The notion that the Kings can start slow because they're vets and Mike Bibby has a nice chinstrap beard and all will be well because it always is is getting out of hand. They've lost three straight, they're back in the Pacific Division cellar and the Minnesota Timberwolves made them look like a group of disinterested, but well-outfitted, senior citizens in 85-77 T'wolves win on Sunday night. Peja Stojakovic's Morph the Cat impersonation is getting annoying. He's missed 36 of 46 shots since Bonzi Wells shamed him into playing through that devastating strained pinkie finger injury last week. The Kings have also been destroyed on the boards, getting outrebounded by 32 caroms, total, during this swoon, which makes no sense for a team that is half made up of power forwards.
If only to deflect the predictable "playa hater" cries that usually pollute my inbox every Monday evening, let me just state that I am a big fan of Damon Jones' whole ... thing. The sunglasses, the halted speech, the passive/aggressive media boycotts, the goofball handshakes -- it's a gas, really. The shtick doesn't take away from the Damon Jones we knew from a few years ago, the guy that was supposedly killing Nick Van Exel and Sam Cassell in Houston-area pickup games. Or the CBA call-up that destroyed the Bulls in a game back in 1999 while sporting a generic Mavericks jersey; one that wasn't created in time to stitch his unremarkable surname across the back. The guy's a dead-set legend.
But the on-court stuff has to change. Jones is backing up Eric Snow in Cleveland, but he's playing more than half the game and hardly giving his Cavaliers much more then the expected outside touch. He's hitting 40 percent from deep this year but his defense has been pathetic. In a nationally-televised game against the SuperSonics Friday night, Jones was caught clowning by Flip Murray two different times after nailing a trey, mugging long enough to escort Murray to the front of the rim on the other end. That's horrid ball-hawking, and not just in comparison to Snow. Jones has been waving guys through to the hoop all season.