The other Celtics had exited the floor, off to the locker room at TD Garden before Wednesday night’s game against the Suns. But not Jason Terry.
The tattooed, goateed Terry was walking toward the tunnel, too, but then he saw two women on the stairway fiddling with a camera. They didn’t motion to Terry, didn’t even look at him. But he stopped anyway, put his arm around one of the women, and posed for a picture.
The picture-taker couldn’t find the button. Or couldn’t press it correctly. Thirty seconds had passed and Terry was still posing. He was still smiling.
After the Celtics’ 87-79 victory, a different woman had been asking every Celtic leaving the floor if they’d stop for a photo. Not one responded until Terry stopped and gave her an image worth framing.
“I love it, man,” said the 35-year-old, in his 14th NBA season. “I’m a fan at heart. For me, it’s all about giving back. That’s a way for me to show appreciation. That’s what I do.”
It may be a coincidence, or just a natural home-court advantage, but Terry’s performances at home throughout his career have been much better than on the road. This year, it’s been even more evident.
Statistically, he’s been about 23 percent better (Terry has averaged 11.9 points per game at home compared with 9.7 points per game on the road). Visibly, about 18,624 smiles better.
When he entered Wednesday night’s game, the Suns held a 15-9 lead. Terry drained a pair of long-range 2-pointers, assisted on another, and made enough gestures to the crowd to make it seem like they were watching a pep rally.
“I love it here,” said Terry, who dished out five assists in 27 minutes and went 6 for 8 from the floor for 13 points. “The atmosphere is tremendous.”
And if the bench is going to keep producing in a way it did Wednesday night, scoring 47 of the team’s 87 points, getting Terry involved might have to be a priority.
Coach Doc Rivers had previously made comments about putting a premium on getting the ball in Terry’s hands. And even though he has shot 52 percent from the floor this season, his usage percentage — which measures the percentage of a team’s plays that end in a player’s hands when he is on the floor — is at 17 percent, a career low.
“Shooters always shoot,” Terry said. “Whether it’s going in or not, that’s my job.”
The return of Avery Bradley finally has allowed Terry to settle into his sixth-man position, while also pushing Jared Sullinger, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green into consistent roles as the second team has started to gain chemistry.
And with a franchise that was ranked 29th out of 30 teams last year in bench production, it might be necessary.
“I thought Jared, Courtney, [Terry], Jeff – all those guys – they’re playing very well together,” Rivers said.
“They won the game for us, basically,” said point guard Rajon Rondo.
Terry will keep signing autographs, taking pictures, and doing whatever he can to make sure everyone else is enjoying the game as much as he is. And with the Celtics winning the first of five straight home games, a happy Terry can add a whole new dimension for Boston.
“I think it would have been a little easier to swallow if it had been Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett,” said Suns coach Alvin Gentry about his team’s loss. “I thought Jason Terry came in and hurt us.”