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Must Kidd score for Mavs to go deep?

DALLAS -- A Friday blog entry examined Jason Kidd's recent scoring struggles and suggested that his 4.3-point scoring average and 25-percent shooting from the floor (11-of-44) and 18.9-percent (7-of-37) from beyond the arc over the last eight games could be a sign of fatigue.

Kidd and Jason Terry are the only Mavericks to have played in all 71 games. And although Kidd's minutes are down more than 2 1/2 from last season, it doesn't mean his 38-year-old body isn't feeling the effects of a 17th NBA season.

He played 35 minutes in Thursday's struggle against the Minnesota Timberwolves and missed all five of his shot attempts, all from 3-point range. It marked the eighth consecutive game in which he did not score in double figures and the third time in that stretch that he did not make a field goal. Kidd's scoring average has slipped to a career-low 8.0 points a game.

Some suggest that Mark Cuban doesn't pay Kidd to score, and there is some truth to that. Through his slump, Kidd continues to set up others to the tune of 8.8 assists over the last eight games, but during that stretch the team is just 4-4.

Since Kidd's arrival in February 2008, I've made the case that Kidd must average between 10 and 12 points a game for the Mavs to have a legitimate shot to make a deep playoff run. In the 2008 and 2010 postseasons, Kidd averaged a high of 8.6 points a game and shot no better than 42 percent from the floor (30.4 percent last season overall and 32.1 percent on 3s), and Dallas was bounced in the first round both times.

When Kidd averaged 11.4 points and shot nearly 46 percent from the floor in the 2009 playoffs, the Mavs got by a gimpy San Antonio Spurs team in five games before the Denver Nuggets took control of the second-round series with a fortuitous end to Game 3 at the American Airlines Center.

Dallas is 22-6 this season when Kidd scores 10 points or more and 28-15 when he does not. When Kidd scores five or fewer points, the Mavs are 14-8. Sounds OK. But only four of those 14 wins came against current teams in playoff position in both conferences. Three came against Eastern Conference teams (Miami, Boston and Atlanta). Conversely, seven of the eight losses came against current playoff teams, with five coming against Western Conference foes.

The Mavs have not won a game against a playoff team when Kidd scored five or fewer points since beating Miami on Nov. 27. Since March 6, Dallas is 0-4 in games against playoff teams (Portland, Lakers, New Orleans and Memphis) when Kidd scores five or fewer points.

In a Western Conference dominated by high-scoring point guards who also dish it out -- from Russell Westbrook (22.2 ppg) to Tony Parker (17.5) to Chris Paul (16.4) to Steve Nash (15.8) to even 35-year-old Andre Miller (12.7), the man it seems Kidd is most likely to see in a potential first-round series with the Portland Trail Blazers -- the Mavs must come closer to matching points at the position.

One of Kidd's best scoring stretches of the season came during 11 games from Jan. 27 to Feb. 16. He scored in double figures nine times, didn't score fewer than six points and went 30-of-63 (47.6 percent) from 3-point range. The Mavs went 10-1 and 3-1 against playoff teams.

Kidd's ability to help in the points column is even more critical now because Dallas isn't sure what it will receive on a nightly basis from starting shooting guard Rodrigue Beaubois. After missing 54 games with a broken foot, Beaubois has scored in single-figures in nine of his 17 games and is averaging 9.8 points a game.

So, with 11 games to go, the Mavs are getting 17.8 points a game from their starting backcourt, with their point guard trending in the wrong direction.