DALLAS -- Although he's at the ripe old age of 39, Jason Kidd showed why he's so important to the Dallas Mavericks and their quest to win back-to-back NBA titles.
And he also showed why age isn't anything but a number.
In his first game Tuesday after missing four games with a strained right groin, Kidd played 22 minutes in the 110-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings and finished wiht seven points, six rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots.
As Kidd was filling up the stat sheet, he also was supplying the Mavs with a steady and reliable hand on offense, while living up to his basketball genuis moniker.
The 6-4 Kidd also had a tremendous block at the rim against 6-11 Donte Greene.
"I thought for a guy that's been out 10 days, it's remarkable how he comes back and plays,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "He almost always plays well the first game back and has a real impact.
"It's a sore sight for sore eyes to see him out there and see him moving well -- not in pain.''
Carlisle wanted to make sure he didn't load Kidd up with too many minutes. Thus, he took him out late in the third quarter, and the Mavs still didn't miss a beat.
That's because the Mavs' offense remained in capable hands with Rodrigue Beaubois (15 points, five rebounds) and Delonte West (13 points).
"The plan was to shut (Kidd) down in the third quarter, which we did,'' Carlisle said. "Roddy and D-West were able to finish the game well for us, so that's big.''
West, though, gave the Mavs a scare in the second half when he attempted a dunk -- and missed -- and hung on the rim afterwards, despite still having some lingering effects from his fractured right ring finger.
"When he went and dunked the ball and did a chin-up on the rim, if you have a broken hand, it''s going to hurt,'' Carlisle said. "But look, the only way he knows how to go is all-out. That's who he is.
"If we try to take that away from him, even with a busted hand, he's not going to be the same player, and we all know it. I made the observation, and then Jet (Jason Terry) immediately said: "That's the only way he knows how to play.' And he's right.''
The Mavs were just hapoy they were able to play a solid overall game before they open a four-game road trip Thursday at Golden State. Dallas shot 50 percent from the field and outrebounded the Kings by a whopping 56-40 while stretching their record to 32-26.
"We just need to get back and just play,'' said Vince Carter, who had seven points, seven rebounds and five assists. "When I'm out there I just need to go hard and continue to make a tough push going into the end of the year.''
Yi Jianlian got nine of the minutes usually reserved for Odom as the Mavs try to look for backups to Dirk Nowitkzi at power forward. Yi made his minutes impactful as he contributed eight points and two rebounds and was a huge spark off the bench.
"Yi sent a pretty good message tonight that he's ready to play,'' Carlisle said. "You know (Brian) Cardinal's always ready.
"Shawn (Marion) played some minutes tonight when the foul thing got us out of whack. We'll move forward and do what we've got to do."
Most importantly, the Mavs are toally healthy again for the first time since the Mar. 30 contest against the Orlando Magic. The last healthy player to make it back to the roster is Kidd.
"He's amazing,'' Marion said of Kidd. "And he just needs to be Kidd on the court and help us win ballgames.'
'-- Dwain Price
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