Sunday, March 3, 2013
Kidd finds rhythm with bench role
By Jared Zwerling
He was 17-for-82, a meager 20.7 percent.
That's what Jason Kidd had been shooting from 3-point range since Jan. 7. But against the Miami Heat on Sunday, he finished 4-for-5 from downtown -- his best outing since Jan. 5 against the Orlando Magic, when he was 5-for-8.
Three of his long balls came in the second quarter when the Knicks outscored Miami 37-22, forcing the East-leading Heat to play come-from-behind basketball for most of the second half. Miami rallied to win 99-93 at the Garden, extending its winning streak to 14.
Jason Kidd had reason to smile -- until the Heat erased the Knicks' big lead.
"Jason Kidd bounced back," Carmelo Anthony said. "It seemed like he found his stroke a little bit out there tonight, so that's something we're going to need coming down the stretch. We were missing it."
The Knicks had also been missing Kidd's energy. Kidd, 39, spent most of the season as the Knicks' starting shooting guard, playing an abundance of minutes in recent weeks and defending big, versatile opponents who beat him up a bit.
But in the past two games, Kidd came off the bench playing his natural position, point guard, and he has looked more at ease and livelier on the court. Though he shot 0-for-4 from distance against the Wizards on Friday night, he dished out five assists -- his most since Jan. 13. And he had six Sunday, to go along with three steals and his hot outside touch.
"Again, I didn't come in this league as a shooter," Kidd said afterward. "It's just for me to continue to take those shots that present themselves. This afternoon, they went in."
Acting as backup point guard on Sunday, he appeared to have his legs under him throughout the game. In the second half, he facilitated several key breakaways off defensive stops to help the Knicks maintain the lead. While the Heat had 10 fast-break points, the blue and orange had 18, which tied their season-high for a game.
Kidd, in fact, played the entire fourth quarter, making some key plays to help the Knicks stay in the contest. Starting point guard Raymond Felton was sitting at the start of the period while Kidd was running the show.
With 6:20 remaining, he intercepted Dwyane Wade's cross-court pass, led a fast break and then dished to J.R. Smith for a 3-pointer, which enabled the Knicks to take a 87-85 lead. Then, Kidd came up with an offensive and defense rebound to give his team extra chances to score.