Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Jason Kidd has no fear, nor do Mavs
By Jeff Caplan
OKLAHOMA CITY -- After 17 years in the NBA, Jason Kidd feels no fear with his team down 15 with 5:05 to play. One man’s journey to the refrigerator is another man’s eternity.
On Monday night, Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks stopped time inside Oklahoma City Arena for the 18,203 disbelievers wearing Thunder blue shirts.
It seemed that Kevin Durant had iced the game with a 3-pointer for a 99-84 lead with 5:05 to go. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle called timeout, and the roar inside the arena shook nearby Bricktown.
“During the timeout there was always the comment that there was a lot of time left,” Kidd said. “Five minutes, three minutes left, we felt if we could get the clock stopped and be able to score, hopefully that would give us a chance to do something.”
The 112-105 overtime victory -- a game that seemed all but lost, yet somehow ended in a commanding 3-1 Western Conference finals lead for the Mavs -- had many heroes. Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points and was a dominant force in the comeback after a long scoreless drought.
Jason Kidd puts up the 3-pointer in overtime that put the Mavs ahead for good in Game 4.
Shawn Marion again came up large defending Durant. And, of course, it must be said that the inexperienced Thunder stubbed their own toe with horrific late-game execution.
But Kidd, at 38 and feeling great, simply did it all. He finished with 17 points, his third consecutive double-figure game and his seventh of the postseason. He added seven assists, five rebounds and four more steals -- giving him a playoff-high 32 -- in 41 minutes, his longest night of work in these playoffs.
No sequence epitomized Kidd’s overall contribution to this run more than the 35 seconds or so late in overtime. Kidd manned up on Durant. The game was tied 105-105 with less than 90 seconds to go. Kidd forced Durant right, caught him with nowhere to go and stripped the ball away.
Headed back the other way, Nowitzki had the ball at the elbow. Russell Westbrook, Kidd's 22-year-old point guard counterpart, acted as though he was coming to double, and Nowitzki dished it to Kidd. Kidd pump-faked Westbrook out of the play, got his feet situated behind the arc and let it fly.
It swished through the net and instantly deflated the crowd.
“Dirk has a little trust in me and I thought they were going to go double on us, so my job is to be able to knock down that shot,” Kidd said. “They kind of went to him late so Westbrook could contest my 3. I thought about jumping into him, but I just reloaded and shot it.”
The shot induced flashbacks of the Mavs’ improbable win at Boston in early February when Nowitzki found Kidd for the game-winning 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds to go.
“Really, I mean, I’m proud of Jason Kidd,” Nowitzki said. “I mean, the way he battles on defense, the floor game he leads for us every night, the steals he gets and the huge 3 in overtime to put us over the top and put us up by three. I tip my hat to him every night, the way he competes.”
And now Kidd is one win away from returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2003 in a season that he knows is his best and possibly last chance. In his fourth postseason with Dallas since being traded from the New Jersey Nets, a team he led to back-to-back Finals appearances, Kidd is having a postseason for the ages.
With the possibility of closing out the Thunder at home Wednesday night, Kidd said he has yet to think about what might lie ahead.
“Nah, I don't really pay too much attention to the count," Kidd said. "I'm just trying to go out there and play for 48 minutes and see what happens at the end."