Thursday, April 19, 2012
Minute Men: Jason Kidd rounding into form
By Jeff Caplan
Our weekly look at how coach Rick Carlisle is managing the minutes of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd during this 66-game schedule:
DALLAS -- The plan is a success. Jason Kidd will average a career-low minutes, right around 29 per game. Even though he's dealt with three separate injuries during this jam-packed, 66-game schedule, with three to go, he's in his best shape at the exact right time.
He was excellent in Wednesday's 117-110 win over the Houston Rockets with 12 points, all on 3-pointers, and eight assists to move Dallas a win away from securing a playoff berth. The 34 minutes he logged would have been considered on the high side just a week ago, but not anymore.
"If it’s playing more minutes than 30 then so be it," said Kidd, who has played 35, 45 and 39 minutes in the last three games. "As long as I can help my team win, that’s what I’m supposed to be here to do."
The Mavs went just 1-2 in those three games, with both losses going to overtime (triple OT at Utah), but Kidd's performances have to be heartening with the playoffs around the corner. His three consecutive 3-pointers in Wednesday's second quarter pulled the Mavs out of a tough spot with the Rockets making a run before halftime. His fourth 3 late in the game kept Houston at bay.
"There's never going to be another Jason Kidd," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "The things that he does and the things that he's doing at this age are remarkable. Just how he affects winning in so many ways; giving guys confidence, the uncanny ability to make the key play -- taking the charge (late in the fourth quarter) was the biggest play of the game. His shot-making in the first half was critical to us because we were in a funk offensively and defensively, and he kept us in it. It's special."
J-Kidd Season averages: 28.9 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.2 rpg
The breakdown: Check out the scoring numbers: 12, 10 and 13 points in his last three games, his only string of three consecutive games in double digits this season. It's also his highest minute total for any three games of the season, racking up 119 minutes over the four-day span. And just look at the shooting percentage: 54.2 percent from beyond the arc, dropping 13 of his 24 bombs. Take it back a fourth game and he's 16-of-29 for 55.2 percent. When Kidd is dropping 3s it dramatically changes the Mavs' offense. Look no further than last season's championship run when he shot it at a 37.4-percent clip.
Dirk Season averages: 33.8 mpg, 21.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 apg
The breakdown: Dirk's minutes are at a season-high, yet remain a career-low, so the plan to limit his minutes much like with Kidd has worked out well. He's gone through shooting slumps, but by and large Dirk remains one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the game and a deadly fourth-quarter player. He's showing that his body is physically ready to go for the postseason. In the five games crammed into this past week starting last Thursday at Golden State, Dirk has averaged 41.8 minutes, topping out at 53 in the triple overtime marathon at Utah. He totaled 96 minutes in the back-to-back at the Lakers and Jazz, and capped this run with a 31-point second half to secure Wednesday's big win over the Rockets.