ATLANTA -- Frustration. That's the term Jason Terry uses most when he talks about the start of his second season with the Atlanta Hawks.
Disaster might be a better word - at least during the first dozen games.
The Hawks' No. 1 draft pick a year ago - 10th overall - from Arizona, where he won a national championship in 1997, had a so-so rookie season, averaging 8.1 points and 4.3 assists a game.
"It's easy to talk bad about rookies when they first come into the league because we're fresh in the water. We don't know much. We're just happy to be here," said Terry, a quick, 6-2 guard.
He started the final 27 games a year ago and was expected to be one of the catalysts for the rebuilding Hawks this season, the point guard of the future.
That all changed when the Hawks lost their first seven games with Terry at the point.
"I was so optimistic coming into the season. I was going to average 20 (points) and 10 (assists). It didn't happen. That was very frustrating for me," said the 23-year-old, born and raised in Seattle, one of 10 children.
Terry averaged 8.1 points and 3.4 assists and 3 turnovers in the 0-7 start, not enough to keep him in the starting lineup. He was replaced by Matt Maloney.
"Another frustration, getting benched," said Terry, whose playing time dwindled to 20 minutes a game during the next five games.
Then, however, he got a second chance. Terry was shifted to shooting guard by first-year coach Lon Kruger when Jim Jackson, who had been manning that spot, went down with a knee injury.
"Then, I got this," said Terry. "It's just been a work in progress. But I knew if you keep working hard, there's nothing you can't do."
Kruger said the change was a natural.
"He's a scorer. That's the thing he does best," he said. "He's really blossomed and is so much more comfortable."
Over the next 10 games, Terry averaged 23.2 points a game, raising his season average to 15 and the Hawks went 3-7 after starting out 2-10.
"I think when he moved off the point he just got a lot more aggressive," said Kruger. "He's attacking bigger guys which gives him an advantage because of his quickness."
Included in that stretch was a career-high 38-point game Tuesday night in a 107-99 win over Pacific Division leaders, Sacramento, including nine of the Hawks' final 12 points.
The play of Terry, and the return of Jackson, who moved to small forward and scored 20 points in his first game back after missing eight games with a sprained ankle, should force opponents to pay more attention to the Hawks.
"No question. With Jason being able to score like that and Jimmy coming back gives us two really good scoring threats on the wings," said Kruger.
Terry, too, has become the one the Hawks look to when they need a basket, especially with the game on the line.
"Certainly, he's the guy that everyone wants to have the ball," said Kruger. "If you get results, that's where you want to go."
The Hawks hadn't been getting those results until Terry's recent surge.
"Our progress has been pretty good. We've been in most of the games until midway in the fourth and just haven't been able to finish the way we'd like to," said Kruger.
"But I think with the emergence of Jason being able to make plays down the stretch is a big key for us," he said.
Terry said he welcomes the challenge.
"That's the kind of pressure you love as a player. It's something you work toward and hopefully I can keep it up," he said.
Time will tell.
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