Three games in three nights and Jason Kidd is ready to roll. In all three.
"That’s what the plan is," Kidd said. "Why not? We’ve got to try to win all three of these games."
Why not? Because ever since the schedule came out, everyone's speculated which of the three games Kidd would sit out for his own survival. Because in two weeks, he'll turn 39 and by the time he gets through Thursday night's game at Phoenix, Friday's at Sacramento and takes the floor in his hometown of Oakland for Saturday's tip against the Warriors, he'll be playing his fifth game in six nights and ninth in 12. He'll practically be ready to keel over.
"I feel good," Kidd insisted after Tuesday's win over the New York Knicks in which he dropped a season-high 15 points with six assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes, just his fourth 30-minute endeavor in the last 13 games.
A clean sweep against three of the Western Conference's bottom four teams would certainly turn momentum on this current 2-4 stretch in the nine-in-12. Overall, the Mavs have lost six of nine. But, Tuesday's home win over the Knicks served as a huge bounce-back from Monday's tough loss at Oklahoma City.
The Mavs, playing without centers Brendan Haywood (sprained left ankle), who may or may not play Thursday, and Brandan Wright (concussion), who did not make the trip, took the action to the Knicks. One night after getting to the free throw line just 10 times, and complaining about it, the Mavs got there 30 times Tuesday.
They built a big lead, played solid defense and rallied to withstand a New York flurry.
"In the midst of what we're going through right now in terms of frequency of games," coach Rick Carlisle said, "this is as good a win as we've had in a long time."
And it was as good a game as Kidd has played in a long time, as if he was inspired by playing against 23-year-old sensation Jeremy Lin, who grew up in Palo Alto following Kidd's career. Averaging career lows by far, 5.4 points and 5.6 assists, Kidd hit double-digits for just the third time all season and it was just the fourth time he made at least three 3-pointers and the sixth time he made at least half of his 3-point attempts in a game.
And now comes the grinder of three games in a row, something Kidd hasn't done since the lockout-shortened 1999 season with Phoenix, which he vaguely remembers.
"We played all three Texas teams," he said.
Almost. The first of two trifectas started at home against Denver and then went to Houston and San Antonio. How'd he hold up then as a seven-year vet? How do two triple-doubles sound in the first and third games to go 2-1? And check out the three-game averages: 18.7 points, 11.3 assists and 10.6 rebounds. Here's the most remarkable number: Kidd averaged 40.7 minutes.
Those games came in the opening couple weeks of the 50-game season.
The second triple-header came along in late March, starting the day after he turned 26. They were Kidd's 27th, 28th and 29th games of the season. This set seemingly took more of a toll as his stat line went from 23-10-7 to 13-8-8 to 11-6-6 in an average of 40.0 minutes a game.
Tonight's game will be Kidd's 31st of the season and his 15th since returning from a strained right calf, his second injury of this hyper-drive, 66-game schedule. He won't play nearly as minutes as back in the day. But, what about one more triple-double for old-time's sake?
"The body feels good," said Kidd, halfway through his 18th season. "So we’ll see what happens with these three."