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Jason Terry returns to Dallas for reunion

DALLAS (AP) - Jason Terry smiled for the cameras in Dallas again Friday, branded ``Mavericks royalty'' by his old coach before enjoying a happy reunion with the franchise he helped win its first NBA title.

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Terry was in town with his new team, the Boston Celtics, and the first order of business was wiping out a bad night in New Orleans and ending a two-game skid. He wouldn't think of ignoring the significance of the moment, though.

``To see everyone is going to be heartwarming,'' Terry said. ``It feels good. It feels like home, as it should.''

The veteran shooting guard spent eight seasons with the Mavericks, endearing himself to the home crowd through civic involvement and the ``Jet'' nickname he fostered through his signature celebration of big 3-pointers - running down the court with his arms spread like wings.

``I'm very comfortable here and so I can imagine the first shot's definitely going to be a 3,'' said Terry, who showed up wearing his championship ring a couple of hours before the game. ``I'm just excited.''

Well, Terry told a little lie there. He actually drove for a layup, got fouled and made both free throws shortly after entering the game late in the first quarter. Wearing a green headband and No. 4 instead of a white one with No. 31, Terry missed his first 3-point attempt early in the second.

Terry got a loud standing ovation when he was introduced, but the game wasn't stopped and fans quickly found themselves cheering a 3-pointer by Vince Carter instead.

``A lot of smiles,'' Terry said of what he was expecting. ``Seeing a lot of the courtside season-ticket holders, all of the people that I spent a lot of time with, seeing them.''

The 35-year-old Terry is no longer with Dallas because the Mavericks decided to get younger in the backcourt while building salary cap space for a big move in free agency. They struck out on point guard Deron Williams last summer and figure to go after center Dwight Howard this offseason.

Meantime, Dallas has jeopardized a 12-year playoff streak by going with a roster overloaded with one-year contracts for a second straight season since beating Miami in the 2011 finals. The Mavericks (32-36) started Friday 3 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final Western Conference playoff spot with just 14 games remaining.

``It's tough because I still am a Mav fan at heart,'' said Terry, who signed a three-year deal with the Celtics and has seen a dip in his scoring average while his 3-point percentage hovers around his career mark. ``But again, when you break up a team, that's what happens.''

The Mavericks are preoccupied with their precarious playoff situation, but Terry's former coach, Rick Carlisle, and few remaining teammates are looking forward to seeing him. They were also unanimous in their belief that the reception would be rousing.

``He was a great ambassador for the city,'' Dirk Nowitzki said. ``Always busy in the community every day and on the court we all know what he meant for us. The best clutch shooter I've played with. And obviously he was a big reason why we won the championship a couple of years ago.''

Nowitzki had his first reunion with Terry in December in Boston. Nowitzki was still sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, so he was relegated to talking ``a little bit of trash from the bench'' during the Mavericks' loss in double overtime.

``I think it would have to be tough tonight for him because he loved it here,'' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. ``He loved Rick, loved (owner Mark Cuban), loved the fans here. Just having him for the little time we've had him, you can understand why people like him. He brings sunshine every day to your basketball team.''

Dallas forward Shawn Marion goes way back to his college days with Terry, when they worked Michael Jordan camps together. And Carlisle had a closer player-coach relationship than one might expect because their daughters attended the same school.

``He is one of the most beloved players I think in the history of the franchise because of his personality, his relationship with the fans and he was a great player and he was a prime-time great player in the clutch,'' Carlisle said. ``Guys like that always distinguish themselves.

``He's Mavericks royalty.''

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
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