Jason Kidd made his return to the hardwood on Tuesday night and led the Mavericks to a victory in classic J-Kidd fashion.
J-Kidd was back leading the Mavs on Tuesday night, as the team makes a final push to the postseason (Getty Images).
After missing the Mavs’ previous four games with a right groin strain, J-Kidd returned looking re-energized and raring to go. He filled up the box score, ending the night with seven points, seven assists, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal in his 22 minutes. The performance helped push the Mavs to a much-needed 110-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings in front of their hometown crowd at American Airlines Center.
Shawn Marion commented after the game that the return of their leader was just what the Mavs needed to get back on the winning track.
"He’s amazing and he just needs to be Kidd on the court and help us win ballgames," Marion said.
Jason’s return gave the slumping Mavs the kickstart as they head into the final eight games of the season. As always, the veteran point guard brought more to the team than was reflected in the box score.
J-Kidd helped the Mavericks stay in the game early, after a rough start saw them fall behind 10-4 less than three minutes into the game. No. 2 knocked down his first shot of the night, a trey, to halve that deficit and moments later assisted for the first time as Ian Mahinmi scored to help Dallas keep pace. He got another assist two minutes later, finding Dirk Nowitzki for a jumper, before checking out with 4:08 left in the first and the Mavs down by four.
After the game, Nowitzki, commented that J-Kidd, who he called "the leader of the pack" was moving well on Tuesday night. Indeed, Jason appeared to have the type of fresh legs and renewed athleticism he was hoping for after an extended rest.
"You know, when somebody comes back off of injury, you don’t really look at the basketball they played, you look at the movement," Nowitzki said. "And I thought he moved well. He drove a couple of times, he had a spin move going to the cup trying to finish, he had a blocked shot, which I haven’t seen basically since he’s been here. So, his movement was great and that’s obviously very encouraging for our team."
The blocked shot Nowitzki referred to happened midway through the second quarter, when J-Kidd stonewalled the Kings’ 6’11" forward Donte Greene on a running layup.
"I was just jumping. All of a sudden, I put the ball on the backboard. I think it surprised both of us," Jason quipped.
The block was part of a big second quarter for No. 2. In the final seven minutes of the half he tallied a driving layup, an assist, the block and three rebounds. For those seven minutes, the Mavericks outscored Sacramento 20-13 to take a seven-point lead into the break.
Jason continued to facilitate in the third as the Mavericks looked to expand their lead. He assisted on three of Dallas’ first six buckets of the quarter and, just four minutes into the third, the Mavs pushed their lead to 10. Sacramento followed with a 6-0 run, but J-Kidd put an end to it, drawing a shooting foul on Tyreke Evans to get to the free throw line. No. 2 sank both of his shots at the stripe to push the lead back to six.
After an assist to Jason Terry moments later, J-Kidd exited the game with 3:40 left in the quarter. He did not return to the game as coach Rick Carlisle adhered to the strict minutes limit he had placed on his returning point guard. The Mavs also made it an easy decision on Carlisle, pulling away in the fourth for a 10-point win.
J-Kidd set some mini goals for himself prior to the game — none statistical — and did his best to accomplish those throughout the course of the night. He noted after the game that Tuesday night was probably the best he’s felt in a while.
"I just wanted to be aggressive, get the ball in the paint, make some things happen and get a win," he said. "I feel great. My minutes were about where they should be for what we’re trying to accomplish and I didn’t have to go back in the fourth quarter. So, it was a win-win tonight."
Carlisle was asked if J-Kidd’s return played any part in the team’s scoring surge after they cracked the 100-point barrier for the first time in the month of April. Carlisle knows by now the difference No. 2 can make.
"For a guy that’s been out 10 days, it’s remarkable how he comes back and plays," Carlisle said. "Almost always plays well the first game back and has a real impact. It’s a sight for sore eyes to see him out there and see him moving well, not be in pain."
Mavericks fans can point to any number of statistical or personal reasons that may have made the difference in Tuesday night’s win, but Jason Terry is convinced there is only one true reason: the triumphant return of the team’s floor general.
"Our biggest difference is that Jason Kidd is back," Terry said. "When you have your leader — your point guard — I think that’s more of what we’re looking at with the feel of everything out here."
J-Kidd’s return on Tuesday night marked the first time since March 30 that the entire Mavericks roster was totally healthy, which will undoubtedly be a key element to Dallas’ final stretch and a potential postseason run.
After a day off on Wednesday, the Mavs begin a four-game road trip as they head to Jason’s hometown of Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
With just 1.5 games separating Dallas from a spot outside the playoff picture, the Mavs know they must buckle down and win games on the road over the next week to even see the postseason.
"We all understand what’s at stake," Jason said. "We’ve got to continue to get better."
Thursday’s tip off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. CT and the game can be seen nationally on TNT or locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
- Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks Box Score (NBA.com, Apr. 11, 2012)
- Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks Post Game 58 Quotes (Mavs Moneyball, Apr. 11, 2012)
- With Kidd’s help Mavs run by Kings 110-100 (Dallas Star-Telegram, Apr. 10, 2012)
- Surprise! Jason Kidd comes back strong (ESPN Dallas / Fort Worth, Apr. 10, 2012)
- Jason Kidd, back from groin strain feels ‘great’ (ESPN Dallas / Fort Worth, Apr. 10, 2012)
- ‘Are You In Or Are You Out?’ Mavs Donuts (Dallasbasketball.com, Apr. 11, 2012)