MINNEAPOLIS — Jason Kidd’s pass-first philosophy hasn’t changed much over the years.
“For me, it’s just to find the open guy and make the game as easy as possible,” Kidd said. “Until my teammates got on me a little bit on attempting a layup, because I had a lot of looks for layups.”
Kidd’s 17 assists tied his season high in his third game with Dallas and Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 points to lead the Mavericks to a 99-83 win over Minnesota on Sunday night.
After 1,000 games, Kidd may not be scoring as much anymore—he had a quiet 12 points on nine shots. But he still has the sweet-touch passes and the ability to create shots for his teammates from just about anywhere on the court.
“He makes some passes and you think in no way will it get there,” Nowitzki said. “Somehow, he finds a way. It’s fun.”
Highlights included a couple of lighting-quick touch passes to Erick Dampier inside—one for a dunk as Kidd was fading out of bounds.
“We have an All-Star point guard that wasn’t going to let us lose,” Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.
Jason Terry added 20 points and Josh Howard 14 as the Mavericks sent the last-place Timberwolves to their seventh loss in eight games.
After only five assists in his Mavericks debut Wednesday, Kidd has 32 in his last two games since last week’s blockbuster trade. He had all but seven of his team’s assists against the Timberwolves.
Now, Kidd will make his official return to Dallas on Monday when the Mavericks host the Chicago Bulls.
“It’s good to go back home after this three-game trip,” Kidd said. “I will be nervous, but at the same time I got the game under my belt in New Orleans, so it is just a matter of going out there and continuing to build on the last two games.”
Al Jefferson led Minnesota with 22 points, while Rashad McCants had 17 and Ryan Gomes added 12.
Despite Kidd and Nowitzki, the Timberwolves were able to hang in with the Mavericks for most of the game. Then, Dallas opened the fourth quarter with a 16-6 run while Minnesota missed some wide-open looks. The Wolves struggled to catch up the rest of the way.
“We were pretty solid defensively, but when we missed those easy ones, it kind of deflated us a little bit,” coach Randy Wittman said. “
Kidd had 10 assists in the first half alone. He nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter to tie it at 24. Then, he helped key the Mavericks to seven points in the last 35 seconds of the second quarter to tie it again at 48.
Kidd’s assist to Howard for a three-point play with 3.1 seconds left in the second made it 48-46. Howard missed the ensuing free throw and Nowitzki put it back at the buzzer, causing Wittman to slam his clipboard on the scorer’s table in frustration.
“You can’t make mistakes like that,” Jefferson said.
Kidd did get a little too cute, though, in the third quarter after stripping Jefferson inside and running the floor. Kidd whipped the ball behind his back in transition—but his teammates were far behind and he ended up turning the ball over to Sebastian Telfair.
It was about the only mistake Kidd made all game.