The New Jersey fans who showed up to thank Jason Kidd at the beginning were thanking Mark Cuban by the end.
Cuban signed off on the trade that sent Devin Harris to New Jersey—a deal that looks better for the Nets all the time.
Harris dominated his former team with 41 points, helping the Nets ruin Kidd’s return with a 121-97 victory over the Mavericks on Friday night.
Harris added a season-high 13 assists in thoroughly outplaying Kidd, who spent 6 1/2 years in New Jersey before the Nets dealt him to Dallas last February for a package highlighted by Harris, who had his second 40-point game during a breakout season.
“You always feel good for a guy that’s been traded, you know, there’s always something a little extra in the tank. You feel real good for him,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. “(Devin had a) special night, but he works his tail off every night. It’s good to have reinforcement with all that hard work that you can have special nights like this. But he’s had a lot of special nights.”
Harris was removed for good with 2:11 remaining, with fans chanting “Thank you Cuban!” to the Dallas owner who had a courtside seat to watch Harris’ dazzling performance.
“I think the goal of everybody in New Jersey is to be a general manager, so I can understand why they would want to share their expertise,” said Cuban, who was amused by the chants.
Vince Carter added 34 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who improved to just 5-8 at home. Yi Jianlian had 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Nets were 14-of-26 from 3-point range, with Harris hitting five and Carter making four.
“He played well, no question, and Carter played well. As a team they had us really on our heels from the beginning,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
Kidd finished with 17 points and seven assists, but neither he nor his teammates could deal with the quickness of Harris, who recorded his eighth 30-point game, all this season. He is averaging 24.5 points.
“Obviously there’s going to be added emotions whether you want it there or not, obviously with old teams and a big trade, but it was more important for us to get a home win,” Harris said.
Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and Jason Terry added 23 for the Mavs.
The Nets were a perennial NBA loser and coming off a 26-56 season when they acquired Kidd from Phoenix in the summer of 2001. They went 52-30 the next season and made the first of two straight trips to the NBA finals behind Kidd, who is their career leader in five statistical categories.
But he became unhappy early last season and the Nets decided it was time to move on without him and were able to get the promising Harris back in return.
Kidd was introduced first and was treated to a long ovation, though not particularly loud because the building was mostly empty on a night when a snowstorm made travel difficult. He waved a couple of times to the crowd but appeared uncomfortable by the long delay before the next starter was announced, motioning with his hand to get things moving.
“The weather was great, we played no defense and New Jersey was great tonight,” Kidd said. “They were hot, Devin and those guys knocked down 3s, they shot the ball extremely well. They were great tonight.”
Asked what he thought of the pregame introduction, Kidd said: “The first time I was in New Jersey, that’s what the crowd looked like, about 3,000 people. That was the first thought, and then just all the good and bad times we had.”
Harris then scored 15 points and Carter had 14 in the first quarter, giving New Jersey a 33-30 lead. The lead was two after Kidd made a pair of free throws with 3:33 left in the half, but Harris and Carter hit 3-pointers during a 12-0 spurt that made it 62-48. The Nets led 64-51 at halftime.
Terry’s three-point play to open the fourth cut it to 10, but Harris made a layup before Jarvis Hayes and Keyon Dooling made 3-pointers to make it 98-80 with 9:36 remaining and the Mavs weren’t able to make much of a dent in the deficit.