Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks took their five-game winning streak on the road this weekend and split a pair of East Coast road tests.
The Mavs started their weekend in Philadelphia, where Jason put on a clinic, ending the game just shy of a triple-double with nine points, nine rebounds and eight assists in close to 30 minutes of game action. He also added two steals for good measure as the Mavs extended their win-streak to six with an 82-75 victory over the Sixers.
Watch Jason talk about the win below:
It was a victory of the come from behind variety as the Mavs, who trailed by 15 at one point in the game, held the Sixers to only eight points in the third quarter.
"The story of the game was definitely our defense," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said. "We only allowed 24 points in the second half which is a phenomenal job defensively. They missed some shots but our guys were into it. Right now, that is our identity as a team. We’re a defense-first team."
While the Mavs were doing work on the defensive end in the pivotal third quarter, Jason was giving Philadelphia nightmares. Four of his eight assists came in the third frame, including one on a Dirk Nowitzki trey with 5:06 remaining. That triple put the Mavericks back into the lead, 54-53, for the first time since midway through the first quarter.
"That third quarter, which has been our worst quarter all season, turned out to be our best quarter at both ends tonight," J-Kidd said. "We tried to make it tough [on them]. In this league if you get layups and get points in the paint, it’s going to be tough and then the threes start dropping. So for us we wanted to protect the paint and make them take tough shots."
The Mavs and Sixers traded shot-for-shot in the opening minutes of the fourth, but Nowitzki sank both his free throws with the game knotted at 63, sparking the Mavs offense to a 9-0 run to take the lead for good.
Jason capped the run with a trey, from a Nowitzki pass, and suddenly the Mavericks were up 72-63 with six minutes to play.
"It was 63-63 and we were like, ‘Hey, who’s gonna make a stand?’" said J-Kidd of the team’s 9-0 spurt. "Dirk made some great plays down the stretch and everybody kind of touched the ball."
The Sixers couldn’t quell a red-hot Nowitzki, who notched an additional eight points in the final minutes to close out the game for the Mavericks and give them their sixth straight win.
The Mavericks’ calm and collected performance in the second half exploited the battle between a team comprised mainly of seasoned veterans and a younger team with a handful of rookies on its roster — something that Sixers head coach Doug Collins touched on in his post game.
"It was a tale of two halves, to say the least," Collins said. "The first half we were active, in the open court, moving the ball, then the second half we started missing shots and I really thought we got discouraged. We got in the halfcourt and we couldn’t create anything. That’s a very good defensive team."
Collins continued on in praise of the veteran J-Kidd, who leads all active NBA players in games played with 1,289.
"He is so smart. There is no player who knows the game in the NBA better than he does," Collins told Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I’ve seen Jason for a long, long time. He is a Hall of Famer, a champion, and he is a tremendous player."
STREAK SNAPPED IN NY
The Mavs took their six-game winning streak to New York for a Sunday matinee and though they showed some fight late in the game, Dallas couldn’t overcome the surging Knicks.
J-Kidd battled it out on Sunday at the point against the NBA’s newest phenom, Jeremy Lin. Lin, who spent some time with the Mavericks in the Las Vegas Summer League two years ago, grew up less than 30 miles from Jason’s hometown of Oakland. He told reporters before Sunday’s game that No. 2 is hugely influential to how he models his game.
"He’s a legend out there," said Lin. "No question, people talk about him everywhere I go. Obviously it’s an honor to be able to play against him. I looked up to him a lot and growing up was a fan of what he did. It’ll be good to play against him and see where I’m at."’
Two California natives met at the point in New York on Sunday. "We develop some of the best," J-Kidd said. (Getty Images).
J-Kidd posted eight points on 3-for-9 shooting grabbed five rebounds and tallied four assists, but Lin got the best of their first meeting with 28 points and 14 assists in New York’s 104-97 defeat of the Mavericks.
"He is taking Mike D’Antoni’s offense and looking a bit like Steve Nash out there. Nash has had a lot of success running that system. It is a point guard’s dream. He’s a great kid, he’s very humble and, again, he plays extremely hard no matter if he makes a mistake or he makes a fantastic play. He just plays the game the right way, and as a point guard, that’s what you love to see."
Though scoring wasn’t his main focus on Sunday, J-Kidd was able to give the rookie a little tutorial on clutch performances.
The Mavs trailed the Knicks at the start of the third quarter, until No. 2 drained a jumper around the 10-minute mark to put his team up by one, 54-53. No. 2’s bucket also sparked the Mavs’ offense to an 8-0 run over the course of the next three minutes.
Later in the fourth quarter it was J-Kidd and Nowitzki’s back-to-back treys that cut the Mavs deficit to four with 5:18 remaining, but ultimately the team couldn’t complete the comeback, severing their six-game win streak.
"In the third quarter, we were going and the game was in our hands to finish off," Jason said. "We didn’t do it, and tip your hat to them, they kept playing. We just stopped playing. That group we had out there gave them life. We’re up 12 and all of a sudden Dirk and I come out and we found ourselves only up three after the third period, so that was the game."
J-Kidd and the Mavs headed for home immediately following Sunday’s loss. They’ll host the Boston Celtics tonight.
The Mavericks have not lost at home since Feb. 3 and are 12-5 on their court at the American Airlines Center this season. Dallas seeks its seventh win in eight games tonight as they look to ride high into the All-Star break.
"Everybody talks about our age, but we all feel like basketball is basketball," Jason said. "We might not be conventional in our lineups. But we just go out there, take advantage of our height in some different positions, and then play from there."
Tonight could also be a milestone evening for J-Kidd. With his next steal, Jason will pass Michael Jordan for second on the NBA’s All-Time steal’s list. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CST on TNT.
- Dallas Mavericks @ New York Knicks Box Score (NBA.com, Feb. 20, 2012)
- Mavs’ Kidd sold on Linsanity (ESPN New York, Feb. 19, 2012)
- Dallas Mavericks @ New York Knicks Post Game 32 Quotes (Mavs Moneyball, Feb. 16, 2012)
- NY Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni tells point guard Jeremy Lin to take it to Jason Kidd and Dallas Mavericks in Madison Square Garden showdown (New York Daily News, Feb. 18, 2012)
- Dallas Mavericks @ Philadelphia 76ers Post Game 31 Quotes (Mavs Moneyball, Feb. 18, 2012)
- Dallas Mavericks @ Philadelphia 76ers Box Score (NBA.com, Feb. 18, 2012)
- Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd is now a savvy, respected veteran (Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 18, 2012)