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Ball Don't Lie

Jason Terry takes a shot at Ray Allen, lauds Paul Pierce’s ‘willingness to stick through the tough times’

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Paul Pierce thanks Jason Terry for having his back (Getty Images)

Boston Celtics guard Jason Terry has probably been waiting for the chance to shoot from the hip for a few months now. The hybrid guard wasn’t announced as a Ray Allen replacement when Terry signed with the team last summer – he had Leandro Barbosa and Courtney Lee and hopes for Avery Bradley’s return to prominence by his side to help warm over hurt Celtic feelings – but he is by far the most prominent Ray-reliever in this committee.

On the heels of one of his best games as a Celtic, and Paul Pierce’s stunning 40-point evening, Jason Terry took the occasion of a monumental victory over the dynastic 5-22 Cleveland Cavaliers to take a dig at the former Celtics shooter and current Miami Heat maker. Before Ray Allen could be reached for a shoulder shrug and possible eye roll, Terry came out with this on Wednesday:

"His (Pierce) willingness to stick through the tough times and not just jump off, 'I'm out of here! I'm going to join forces with Kobe (Bryant),' or 'I'm going to play with Dwyane Wade' -- that's a shot right there," Terry said.

This is the part where we mention that Jason Terry is one of our favorite players, and that we’ve long dug his hubris and game. Hell, we took over 1300 words to describe our appreciation of his game and impact last week. He’s long been underrated, despite being a go-to guy for both print and TV media for years, and even into his 30s he’s still helping the Celtics stay in games.

He’s also way, way off here.

For one, Ray Allen took less money to join the Miami Heat. He wants a second ring, after earning one with the Celtics back in 2008, and shoved his own name off the marquee in order to team up with the defending champs to potentially add another title to his resume.

Secondly, Ray Allen was drafted by Minnesota. He played in Milwaukee and Seattle before heading to Boston in a 2007 draft night trade. This isn’t some Celtic legend that Red Auerbach cleverly secured the territorial rights to after pinching the side of a piece of paper with Allen’s name that was dropped into some league executive’s fedora. This is a guy the Celtics got for Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring contract.

Lastly, Ray Allen did not enjoy his final season in Boston. His team was a win away from making the NBA Finals for the third time in five years, but Allen had a prickly relationship with Rajon Rondo and a frustrating partnership with coach Doc Rivers. No amount of championship rings can make up having to grimace as you enter the locker room for that night’s game.

Then there’s Pierce, who should be rightfully lauded for his brilliant work on Wednesday. Forty points on 13-16 shooting, missing one three-pointer out of seven tries, making all eight free throws and generally acting like the sort of guy that has to carry a flailing team. Watch the highlights here:

Masterful work. And, strangely, unexpected production from someone that has averaged 22 points per game throughout his NBA career. If you exclude last season’s 43-point explosion against the New York Knicks, Pierce hadn’t hit for over 40 points since a 50-point game in 2006 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. And even that stat line took two overtimes to approach, without much help alongside Paul.

It’s probably why, from 2004 until 2007, Paul Pierce’s name was involved in various trade scenarios. He wasn’t particularly thrilled as a Celtic as Danny Ainge found his footing as a GM following an ownership change and a willing destruction of the team put together by Rick Pitino and Chris Wallace from 1997 to 2003. Pierce didn’t come out and demand a trade, but his sulk game was on point throughout the 2004-05 season, and it was odd to see a player in his prime paired with an evolving batch of young players.

Luckily, in 2007, Pierce was paired with two other players that were past their respective primes in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Because those three’s past-prime work was so good, though, the Celtics won a title in 2008 and could have possibly taken two more in 2009 and 2010 were it not for injuries to Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. Allen and Garnett both came from lottery teams, both were dealt after it became clear that their work was better served in a more veteran environment, as each wanted to play until June.

Sort of like Ray Allen wants to do, all over again, in June of 2013.

Sort of like Jason Terry wants to do, all over again, in June of 2013. After determining, probably rightfully so, that those hopes weren’t likely to come true if he re-signed with the Dallas Mavericks. Probably the same summation Ray Allen made, before he decided to go off and sign with a team featuring three superstars … like Jason Terry did last summer.

It’s a low shot sent out in an adrenaline-filled locker room following a fun win over a young team. Jason Terry wasn’t a Celtic last year, so it’s not as if he was spurned by Allen personally, but replacements have a way of finding themselves in the midst of a tussle they had no hand in starting. And if Bill Murray can pick a fight with “medium talent” Chevy Chase after Chase left ‘Saturday Night Live’ for the shores of Malibu and box office stardom, Jason Terry can pick a fight with Ray Allen after an anonymous NBA Wednesday following a win over the Cleveland Cava-bloody-liers.

And it’s certainly something we – writing about the NBA in the days before the rest of the nation starts to pay attention to the league prior to its Christmas day slate of nationally televised games – can make into something bigger than what it has to be.

Keep flexing, Jason.

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