for this game

Terry, Mavericks bounce shorthanded Rockets

Nov 20, 2008 - 5:46 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry knew right away it would be his kind of night.

Terry came off the bench to score a season-best 31 points and ignite the Mavericks to a 96-86 victory over the Houston Rockets, their third consecutive win on the road after a 2-7 start.

"When you come off the bench cold and the coach calls the first play for you and the shot goes in, man, it must be my night," Terry said. "Let's try another one. And the next one goes in, I'll try another. My teammates kept getting me open."

Terry shot 13-of-21 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers. Every time Houston made a run at Dallas, it seemed like Terry delivered another key basket.

"We had to ride him tonight," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Terry. "We were just looking to get him the ball and for him to make plays. When they cut it to six (with 2:16 left to play), he hit that three for us, which was huge."

Terry, a starter most of his career, didn't complain about being moved to the bench.

"I'm a guy who's going to do whatever it takes for the team," he said. "Right now, they need me scoring off the bench. My role and my job is simple. Come in, bring energy and put the ball in the hole."

After starting the season 2-2, Dallas lost five in a row.

"We didn't know how we were going to start the season," Terry said. "It could have been 0-4 or 0-7. The talent was here. It was a matter of putting it together. We've always felt confident about our team. That's why we've been able to come out of this funk."

"It was a tough start for us," Mavs veteran point guard Jason Kidd said. "We're a veteran ball club. Nobody's panicked. I think our defense is starting to do a little better. We can score points. If we can't defend, we can't win."

Dirk Nowitzki complemented Terry with his usual array of fall-away jumpers, adding 24 points while hitting on 9-of-9 from the foul line.

"Our offense is coming a little better," Nowitzki said. "When Rick calls something on the fly, we're executing better. At first, we were a little lost."

Nowitzki didn't accept the Mavericks' 2-7 record very well.

"Five losses in a row seemed like a month when you're used to winning the last five, six years," he said. "We had to get it turned around quick. We didn't have a great camp, and it led over to a rocky start."

Dallas has lost all four of its home games this season.

"We've always been a great home team the last couple of years," Nowitzki said. "We've got to get back to that."

"We've got to build on this," Carlisle said of winning three in a row on the road and now returning home for games with Memphis and Indiana. "When you struggle, you've got to stick with it and find a way to turn it around."

Both teams were missing a starter. Houston center Yao Ming sat out with a sore left foot he injured Monday night at Oklahoma City, while Dallas forward Josh Howard was sidelined after injuring his left knee Tuesday night at Charlotte.

A hobbled Tracy McGrady and Rafer Alston led the Rockets with 16 points each. McGrady left Monday's win against the Thunder after injuring his knee that underwent surgery in the offseason.

"Right now, we stick with the limit," McGrady said of playing just 29 minutes Wednesday. "I don't know what that limit is, but however many minutes I played tonight is what it's going to be. I feel a little out of synch on offense, and it was really tough to get into the rhythm."

Houston coach Rick Adelman blamed the loss on his team's defense.

"We just didn't play well enough to win," he said. "In the first half, we didn't defend like we needed to and they shot 58 percent. I was surprised that we were only seven down. In the second half, offensively, we just did the same thing we've been doing all year, which is we just go stagnant."

"We'll have a couple of good games and then we'll fall back," Rockets forward Luis Scola said. "We need to think about that."

The Rockets shot 37 percent (29-of-78) from the field.

"The shots were there all night," Alston said. "Our defense was no good. Our second-half defense was pretty good but, in key moments when we really needed a stop, it wasn't there."