Jason Buckles Down on D

By Kami Mattioli

It has been said many times that Jason Kidd is one of the few players in the NBA that doesn’t need to score to impact the game.

Over the last two games, Jason is proving that statement in spades.

One game after No. 2′s nine dimes led the Mavs to a win over Oklahoma City, J-Kidd’s impressive defensive performance helped Dallas trump the Phoenix Suns, 98-89, last night at the American Airlines Center.

No. 2′s five rebounds and four steals kept the Mavs in the game, giving the team stops at crucial moments and terminating runs by the Suns. Rob Mahoney of Mavs Blog The Two Man Game credited Jason for disrupting the Phoenix offense and forcing them to slow down their fast-paced style.

“[H]is help defense was phenomenal against the Suns’ fluid offense. The game plan was simple: 1) Move Kidd off of Steve Nash as much as possible, 2) Allow him to dominate the passing lanes with his good timing and better anticipation, 3) Profit.”

 

Jason also added three assists and was dangerous in the third quarter when he lobbed a highlight reel alley-oop dish to teammate Rodrigue Beaubois who seemed to linger high above the rim for an interminable amount of time before reaching back and jamming the ball through the twine.

J-Kidd followed that up with his only score of the night — a trey that put the Mavs up by 10 and the proverbial nail in the coffin of the Suns. The three-pointer was Jason’s 12th of the season, accounting for all of his field goals so far.

DAP FROM NASH

Last night was the first of four games the Mavericks will play this season against Steve Nash and the Suns.

Nash holds a special place in the heart of Mavs fans and is a former teammate of both J-Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki, though they were together at different times. Nash began his career in Phoenix, while Jason was holding down the point for the Suns and learned the art of point guard play from J-Kidd for a year and a half. Nash was then traded to Dallas, where he teamed with Nowitzki for six seasons before returning to Phoenix.

The three are all close friends and Nash said before Wednesday’s game that he was happy for both men after their championship winning performance last season.

“It was amazing, to see Dirk and Jason (Kidd) win a title,” Nash said. “Both of them have been with this franchise a long time, Jason in two parts and Dirk from Day One. So to see guys who have meant a lot to the community and meant a lot to the franchise over the years kind of turn the corner and win a championship, it was kind of sweet. I was just happy for those guys and happy for the city because it can be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Not everybody gets the opportunity. I was excited for them.”

 

ROOKIE REUNION
Last night’s game was also particularly special for No. 2 because he was able to reunite with Suns forward Grant Hill. The two shared the NBA Rookie of the Year Award 17 seasons ago during J-Kidd’s initial stint with the Mavs.


J-Kidd and Grant Hill shared the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award after the 1994-1995 season (Getty Images).

After speaking only in passing for a number of years, the two NBA veterans reconnected in Phoenix over the summer.

“It’s good to see someone from my class out there playing,” Jason said. “Grant has had a heck of a career. I know he’s been hurt some so for him to continue to play at a high level, I’m happy to see that. We talked in the lockout — being in Phoenix. He wants to get to 40. I’m hoping I can get to 40. The big thing is just being able to play the game against the best players in the world and hopefully help your team win. That’s all we can ask for at this stage of the game.”

 

Currently the league’s active leader in games played, last night’s game marked J-Kidd’s 1,274th regular-season appearance which tied Terry Porter for 16th place on the NBA’s career games played list. Hill has been plagued by injuries throughout his entire career and suited up for just the 954th time last night. But he still sees plenty of smilarities of where he and Jason are in their careers.

“I think we’re both somewhat at the same point in our careers. I think we’re just trying to appreciate it and get the most out of these last couple of years,” Hill told the Dallas Morning News. “I was unbelievably excited for him last year to win (the NBA title). He was truly deserving. It was sort of the icing on the cake to just a wonderful career. And to know that I’ve been linked to him, I was pulling for him. I won’t be pulling for him tonight, but I was then.”

 

Jason’s teammate Dirk Nowitzki, who entered the league in 1998, is also climbing the games played list. Wednesday marked his 1,000th game in the NBA.

“A kid coming from Germany and playing at the highest level, that’s a great accomplishment. He’s on his way to passing me. Hopefully he has a thousand more left in him,” Jason said “Dirk keeps us going. He’s the youngest old guy around.”

 

NEXT UP 
Tonight, No. 2 and the Mavericks continue their grueling schedule as they travel to San Antonio to take on the Spurs (4-3).

The Spurs will be without guard Manu Ginobili, who broke his hand on Monday night against Memphis. The injury is a big one for the Dallas/San Antonio rivalry as Ginobili always seems to give the Mavs headaches, averaging 15.3 points per game in 30 career games against Dallas. But Jason also noted that the Mavs can’t take the Spurs lightly, even if they are without one of their best scorers.

“San Antonio — every time we play them without someone, we get cooked,” he said. “We’ve got to bring our A-game.”

 

The Mavs (0-2 in road games this season) head to San Antonio looking to sever the Spurs’ unbeaten streak at home and extend their own win streak to three games. Tipoff is 7:30 PM CST and the game can be seen on FS Southwest.

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