DALLAS -- When he has fresh legs, the old man is still a premier point guard.
Jason Kidd proved that during Wednesday night’s 101-86 season-opening win over the Charlotte Bobcats. He stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points (5-for-8 on field goals), 18 assists, 3 steals and only 1 turnover.
But Kidd’s favorite number in his line was the first. He played 31:46, and he hopes that’s the beginning of a trend.
“If I’m playing 31 minutes and we’re winning, maybe we should have tried that a long time ago,” said Kidd, a 37-year-old who was out of gas in the playoffs after averaging 36.0 minutes per game last season.
If Kidd keeps playing like this, it’ll be a lot easier for coach Rick Carlisle to limit his minutes. He can rest comfortably on the bench for the final few minutes when the Mavs have a double-digit lead.
However, the Mavs will have to get better play from their bench for that to happen on a regular basis. They outscored the Bobcats by 30 with Kidd on the floor. The Mavs were outscored by 19 with J.J. Barea playing point guard.
Kidd, the NBA’s second all-time leader in assists, put on a passing clinic that was awe-inspiring even by his standards. An 18-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is off the charts if you’re playing against air, much less a foe that allowed the fewest points in the NBA last season. He finished one assist shy of John Stockton’s NBA record for opening night.
"We're lucky to play with a point guard like that," Dirk Nowitzki said.
When Kidd runs the show that efficiently, it makes offense easy for the Mavs. The Mavs shot 54.7 percent from the floor. Nowitzki dropped 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting. Jason Terry added 22 on 10-of-15 shooting. And the sweetest feed of the night was Kidd’s lob to Tyson Chandler for a two-handed flush in Gerald Wallace’s face.
“Jason Kidd just dominated the game,” said Charlotte coach Larry Brown, a point guard aficionado. “He got everyone the ball, so unselfish. I don’t think Dirk or Terry took a tough shot.”
If the Mavs expect their point guard to perform at that level during the playoffs, Carlisle has to pull off the tough task of minimizing Kidd’s minutes.