Kidd turns up offense in win over Kings

2-29-08 - Jason Kidd now understands that the Dallas Mavericks want him to look for his shot.

A night after being benched the final 34 seconds of a pivotal game in part because he was reluctant to shoot, Kidd scored a season-high 21 points and was an assist shy of a triple-double, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 115-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

Kidd shot 9-of-18 and grabbed 11 rebounds. Even without the assist needed for his 100th career triple-double, Kidd’s all-around performance was dazzling, such as sparking runs of 18-0 and 15-0. Most important was a 10-2 spurt after Dallas led only 103-102 in the closing minutes.

Kidd’s willingness to shoot was still an issue in the first half, as he took only four shots. Then, the message clicked. He put up nine in the third quarter and five in the fourth. The shots were double his previous most since joining the Mavs, and the rebounds also were his most in this go-round in Dallas.

Beno Udrih and Kevin Martin each scored 25 points for the Kings, who lost their fourth straight and seventh in their last nine road games. Ron Artest added 22 points and Mikki Moore had 12 rebounds and nine points.

Dirk Nowitzki continued to flourish off feeds from Kidd, getting 34 points and 10 rebounds. His baskets included a 35-footer that banked in at the end of the third quarter after Kidd dove into the front row to save the ball.

Jerry Stackhouse tied his season high with 23 points—the second time since Kidd arrived he’s done so. Josh Howard added 20 points and nine rebounds for Dallas and Erick Dampier had 13 rebounds and three points.

This victory makes the Mavericks 4-2 since Kidd arrived. All four wins have come against teams with worse records, while both losses have come against teams with better records. Next up for Dallas are back-to-back games against teams with better records—at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday and at Utah on Monday night.

The Kings were closing an eight-day, five-game road trip and could’ve been weary, especially after blowing an early 11-point lead by missing 10 straight shots. But they never went away, even prolonging the game with fouls and timeouts in the final seconds after Dallas pulled away.

Kidd was at his best at the end of the first and third quarters.

In the first he assisted on four baskets and scored the other in an 11-0 burst over 1:42. Then Kidd sparked a 12-0 run over the last 1:52 of the third quarter, starting it with a tenacious spin to clear space for his own layup and capping it with the inbounds save that set up Nowitzki’s buzzer-beater.

The lack of the assist to round out the triple-double was a bit ironic, considering the Mavericks passed out cards with the letter ‘A’ for fans to wave every time Kidd notched an assist.