I remember when I first learned that the Knicks had signed Jason Kidd, I shrugged it off as a minor acquisition Kidd was 39 years old and in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. His main role was supposedly to be a mentor and backup to Jeremy Lin. I figured that at his age, Kidd wasn’t going to be much better than Anthony Carter.
We’re only about a quarter of the way through the NBA season, but I was already wrong about three things over the summer. First of all, Kidd is backing up Raymond Felton, not Jeremy Lin. I still don’t agree with the decision to let Lin go, but Felton has been decent enough. He’s definitely closer to the 2010 version of Felton that was an asset to the Knicks before the Carmelo Anthony trade than the 2011 version that stunk on the Blazers.
Second, Kidd isn’t really backing up Felton. He’s starting besides him thanks to the general lack of a shooting guard on New York’s roster. Iman Shumpert is still recovering from a torn ACL and J.R. Smith is too much “shooting” and not enough “guard.” That leads into the third thing. Kidd has been much more of a game-changing player than I ever expected him to be, and he’s about 100 times better than Anthony Carter. Actually, since Carter was a negative, he’s about -100 times better than Anthony Carter.
In New York’s 100-97 victory over the Nets on Tuesday night, Kidd was at his best. He served up six assists, grabbed six rebounds, and shot from three-point range with lethal accuracy. Kidd doesn’t really create his own shot nowadays, but he does everything else pretty well (okay, defense is still an issue, but that’s what Tyson Chandler is for).
With the score tied at 97 and 24 seconds left, Kidd drained his sixth triple of the night to put the Knicks ahead. He even got fouled by fellow old man Jerry Stackhouse in the process, but Kidd ended up missing the free throw to create an exciting end to the game. Fortunately for the Knicks, Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams both missed three-pointers on Brooklyn’s final possession to let New York eek out the win.
Throughout the game, the Knicks used their usual combination of great three-point shooting and lack of turnovers to make up for a 30-16 first quarter deficit. The Nets shot better than New York overall, but the Knicks were an absurd 14-for-28 from beyond the arc with much thanks to Anthony (5-for-7, 45 points) and Kidd (6-for-8, 18 points). That New York could shoot so well and still just barely beat Brooklyn is not the best sign in the world. The Knicks will probably need to play better defense the next time around.
Andray Blatche was particularly potent on offense for the Nets, while Joe Johnson was all too eager to take advantage of the difference in size between himself and Kidd. Williams had a decent game with 18 points and 10 assists, but it was his poor three-point shooting (1-for-6) that stands out in a game in which the Knicks were so hot from long range.
New York is back in action on Thursday when the famously struggling Lakers come to town. Meanwhile, the Nets will try to break up their losing streak tomorrow night in Toronto.