Asked to provide instant offense from the bench this season, Jason Terry did so on Monday, scoring 31 points and guiding a late 14-4 run that carried the Dallas Mavericks past the Houston Rockets 107-98.
Tracy McGrady had 35 points and eight assists, and Yao Ming had 21 points and 11 rebounds, yet the Rockets lost for the first time this season. Houston had been 3-0 under new coach Rick Adelman. Before tipoff, Adelman said he viewed this game and the next one -- last night at home against San Antonio -- as true tests of his team's progress.
Dirk Nowitzki was only 7-of-20 from the field and had 19 points, but that included a 3-pointer that bounced in off the front rim for a big emotional boost during the gamebreaking run. He also had nine rebounds.
Josh Howard had 21 points and DeSagana Diop added 10 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks for Dallas. Jerry Stackhouse scored 16 points on his 33rd birthday, including five in the final rally.
The Mavericks are 3-1, which is notable only because they were 0-4 at this point last season, with a 41-point loss to Houston mixed in. Dallas went on to win 67 games, matching the fifth-most in league history, before getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
Mavericks coach Avery Johnson has tweaked his system by going with Devin Harris as his point guard and making Terry his first sub. Johnson has shown his commitment to the plan by keeping Terry as his top reserve even though Harris has missed the last two games with a bruised left thigh.
Terry began taking over this game in the final minute of the third quarter, hitting a 3-pointer, a jumper over Yao and a one-arm floater in the lane on a fast break to take Dallas from down by five points to leading 77-75 going into the fourth.
Then he opened the final period with a 3-pointer, giving him 10 straight points.