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Jason Terry's Clutch Play Just Before He Wasn't So Clutch

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If you were following the NBA Finals at all tonight, you're almost certainly already aware of Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry's defensive lapse in the waning moments of the game that resulted in a game-tying 3-point shot for the Miami Heat (after which Heat guard Mario Chalmers celebrated quite appropriately for being on the receiving end of a beautifully executed play).

But before the Franklin High School graduate's seemingly disastrous defensive mistake, he made a clutch defensive play during what ESPN's Tom Haberstroh called "The 55 Seconds of Doom".

Perhaps we could more generously describe the doom that settled over the Heat's basket at American Airlines Arena during this 55 seconds as an instance of poor offensive execution after which "the Heat got what they deserved", as one friend described it.

But it was after their second offensive rebound off of a contested 3-point shot LeBron James - I still can't believe that happened twice in a row - where Terry made what Haberstroh described as "clutch of a defensive play as you'll find."

The 55-second possession of doom - Heat Index Blog - ESPN
It looked as if Haslem had a clear look at the basket for a putback, but Jason Terry somehow managed to swipe the ball away from Haslem as the Heat power forward sprung upward for the layup.

The significance of Terry’s swipe can’t be overstated. If Terry missed the ball and hit Haslem’s hand, Haslem would likely go to the charity stripe for two free throws. Instead, Terry successfully poked the ball out, both avoiding a foul and eliminating an easy bucket.

That play says as much about Terry's basketball personality as the defensive lapse that he would never have lived down had the Mavericks lost: he had the moxie to take a risk in a big moment when many other players would have simply tried to minimize risk.

On one possession his big play mindset worked out beautifully; less than a minute later it almost made him the scapegoat.

It was quintessential Jason Terry, a guy whose own desire to win can occasionally lead him to a perpetual state of seeking redemption.

But love him or hate him, you can't say the guy doesn't play with heart.