|Jason Kidd plays first home game for Mavs in more than 11 years|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 25 February 2008 16:35|
All-Star point guard Jason Kidd, obviously more experienced and in a different situation than when he left, played his first home game for the Dallas Mavericks since 1996. It's also Kidd's first home game since being traded last week from New Jersey to the team that drafted him No. 2 overall pick in 1994.
Making sure fans could properly welcome him back, Kidd was the last of the Mavericks starters introduced. That spot usually belongs to Dirk Nowitzki.
Kidd got a loud rousing ovation and right away had the fans cheering again with an early assist on Josh Howard's 3-pointer. Then he followed a few minutes later with a steal, driving toward the lane, spinning and passing back to Nowitzki, who hit the jumper.
The last time Kidd played as a Maverick at home was Dec. 17, 1996, in a game at Reunion Arena, where the team played before moving to the more elaborate American Airlines Center in 2001.
``I would hope it's rowdy, loud and proud,'' coach Avery Johnson said before the game. ``I think it's great. He's excited.''
Kidd, as is his pregame pattern, didn't talk before the game. He usually talks at morning shootarounds, but the Mavericks didn't have one Monday.
When Kidd was drafted, Dallas was a perennial loser often referred to as the Mav-Wrecks. There were no realistic dreams of a championship then, only the hopes of winning a few games.
Kidd comes back to a team that went to the NBA finals two years ago before being eliminated in the first round of last season's playoffs as the No. 1 seed.
Kidd, who turns 35 next month, is 10 years older than Devin Harris, the point guard the Mavericks gave up in the deal.
``We're still a relatively new team right now,'' Johnson said. ``We've kind of had to use this time kind of like a little mini training camp. ... Hopefully at some point, we'll try to become a good team.''
Kidd played in back-to-back NBA finals with New Jersey in 2002-03. But the Nets haven't made a long playoff run since, and Kidd started talking trade a year ago.
Once the much-discussed eight-player deal was finally completed Feb. 19, Kidd played his first three games with the Mavericks on the road - with 22 points, 37 assists and 11 turnovers.
Kidd has 17 assists Sunday in a victory at Minnesota, and 15 the game before that in a victory over Memphis. In his first game back with the Mavericks, after only one practice and a shootaround, Kidd has eight points, five assists and six turnovers in a loss at New Orleans.
In the first two victories with Kidd, the Mavericks had 56 assists on their 74 field goals - which Johnson attributes to the guard's arrival.
``You run more if you think you're going to get the ball. He's a veteran with a ton of experience getting other people the ball,'' Johnson said. ``Everybody (is running). They know if they're open, there's a high probability they will get the ball. ... That's what we wanted. We wanted that kind of spirit that can be injected into the team that could help everybody.''
More than 90 minutes before the game, a few fans wearing old-style No. 5 Mavericks jerseys from when Kidd first played with the team were standing near the court. That group was interspersed with some wearing the current No. 5 jersey of Mavs standout Howard. Kidd now sports No. 2.
But Kidd wasn't there then, opting instead to do his pregame shooting with several teammates on the team's practice court in a private part of the arena.
When the Mavericks came out before the game, Kidd was in the middle of the pack with Devean George right behind him. It was George who blocked being involved in the original deal the Mavericks had with the Nets.