In a defining moment for he and the Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd responded with one of his best performances of the year.
J-Kidd was nothing short of phenomenal Wednesday night as he led the Mavs to a 109-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the American Airlines Center. He finished with a double-double, his sixth of the year, as he poured in a season-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with 10 assists and two rebounds.
For Jason, the last few games had been frustrating because nothing came easy for him scoring-wise. But in the game of basketball, persistence wins out, as he told ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon before Wednesday's game, perhaps foreshadowing his performance:
"They all feel good," No. 2 said describing the shots he has been taking. "They're all long or short. They haven't gone in, but the life as a shooter, as I'm learning, is that you've got to keep shooting. That's what I plan on doing and see if I can make a couple."
Jason made more than a couple. During the second and third quarters J-Kidd hit seven straight shots—including four 3-pointers.
"The game of basketball can be cruel sometimes and also fun," No. 2 said after his big night. "And so for me personally, I've had some great looks this season and I just haven't been making them. But I've got great teammates and a coaching staff that keeps encouraging me to take the shots when I'm open. And they finally started falling for me tonight."
J-Kidd knew how important a win against the defending NBA champions would be for the Mavs season. So he matched Lakers star Kobe Bryant point-for-point and assist-for-assist to put an end to Dallas' six-game losing streak.
"I think no matter who our opponent was tonight we needed a win and we got it. Kobe is one of, if not the best, player in the league, and you've got the two-time defending champs. So, if you can't come and be ready to play tonight, especially in the desperation mode that we are in, then you've got to leave it all on the floor tonight."
Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle was thrilled with Jason's play and his propensity to keep attacking:
"J-Kidd was aggressive, he was gonna be aggressive," Carlisle said. "And the thing you love about his game is that the first couple of shots didn't go down, but he just stayed with it. He just kept after it, and right now that's got to be who we are. It's just one of those times when persistence has got to carry the day. And the persistence is what got it done for us today."
Things didn't start out looking good for the Mavs during the opening half as they began the game 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. Jason got his first two assists of the game to get the Mavs out to an early 4-0 lead when he found Dirk Nowitzki and surprise starter Sasha Pavlovic for consecutive jumpers.
Trailing 17-13 at the three-minute mark of the first, No. 2 finally got the Mavs going from downtown when he launched from the corner and drained the first of his five triples to pull his team within one point.
But the Dallas defense allowed their fourth-straight 30-point quarter as the Lakers netted 31 in the first and built the lead to 31-23 by the end of the quarter.
After going just one of four from the field in the first quarter, J-Kidd turned it on during the next three as he seemingly couldn't miss a shot. By half the Mavs had narrowed the Lakers' lead to just four points, 56-52.
Jason hit another three with just over seven minutes remaining in the third and then nailed jumpers on consecutive possessions to edge the Mavs within three.
Already red-hot, No. 2 buried a trey near the top of the arc with 3:53 left in the third, which gave Dallas its first lead of the night, 70-69. The Mavs would not trail again.
Jason finished the third quarter with 13 of his 21 points and that stretch was key for his team as he told Mavs Moneyball:
"We've been struggling in the third quarter the last two weeks," J-Kidd said. "And that was probably the first time we weren't down double figures going to the fourth. But the big thing is that we didn't turn the ball over, we got good looks, make or miss, and our defense put us in position to win."
Jason and the Mavs will look to reestablish their road dominance when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls tonight.
At 12-6 away from home, the Mavs are one of the NBA's best road teams and they owe the Bulls one for an 88-83 Chicago victory in Dallas on November 19th.
The game is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. CST and will be televised nationally on TNT.