Jason Kidd's season debut with the Dallas Mavericks was underwhelming. His second game helped remind the team why it traded for Kidd in the first place.
After recording his highest assist total in more than a month, Kidd looks to continue to help the Mavericks emerge from their recent slump as they visit the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
Dallas (36-19) acquired Kidd from New Jersey on Tuesday, hoping the 14-year veteran could help the Mavericks keep pace with the top teams in the loaded Western Conference. The Mavericks failed to do so in Kidd's first game Wednesday, falling 104-93 against conference-leading New Orleans for their fourth loss in five games.
Kidd had eight points, five assists and six turnovers while consistently getting outmatched by Hornets point guard Chris Paul in that contest. He bounced back Friday, however, notching 15 assists and four steals as Dallas beat Memphis 98-83.
"I was a little bit more relaxed just to play basketball," said Kidd, who delivered his highest assist total since he had a season-high 17 against New York on Jan. 16. "Leading up to that first game, it had been a little bit of a circus. Now that we can concentrate on the game of basketball, that's what I have to do."
Kidd's latest performance impressed his new teammates.
"He was decisive and knew who he wanted to get the ball to, when he wanted to get it to them, and he looked like he found his rhythm," said Jason Terry, who scored 22 points Friday. "That's the Jason Kidd we know."
Kidd, the co-Rookie of the Year when he played with Dallas in 1995, is averaging 11.1 points - his lowest mark since 1996-97 - and shooting a career-worst 36.7 percent from the field. But he's one of only three players averaging double figures in assists at 10.4 per game.
"When he's in the air and looks like he's got nowhere to go, he throws a crosscourt pass to wide open shooters," Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "That's why he's one of the best passers this league has ever seen."
Kidd will try to live up to that reputation as he faces the Timberwolves (11-42), who have lost six of seven to reclaim the worst record in the West.
Minnesota shot 50.6 percent from the field on Thursday, but point guard Sebastian Telfair missed a shot at the buzzer as the Wolves lost 100-99 against San Antonio. It was their fifth defeat in six home games since a four-game win streak at the Target Center.
"We know we're not going to the playoffs this year," Telfair said. "We got to get what we can get out of the rest of these games. We need to keep learning."
Thursday's narrow defeat against the reigning NBA champions overshadowed Minnesota center Al Jefferson's 28-point performance. Jefferson hadn't reached 20 points in any of his previous five games - his longest drought of the season.
Jefferson has averaged 23.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in two losses this season to the Mavericks, who are looking to sweep the season series for the second consecutive campaign. Dallas has won the last seven meetings, including all four in 2006-07.
Kidd has averaged 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists in two games against Minnesota this season.
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