Praise gets heaped upon Jason Kidd

DALLAS -- There is so much love for Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd.

After the Mavericks' 112-103 Game 5 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday night, Kidd was holding court near his stall in the locker room just talking basketball.

New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams was chatting it up with Kidd trying to get all the knowledge he can from the 38-year old point guard who is just one victory away from his first NBA title.

Across the locker room, Tyson Chandler said Kidd's clutch 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter was just another example of what he's meant to this team. In a corner stall, DeShawn Stevenson said Kidd was a monster, a legend.

In an interview room down the hall, Jason Terry said the team feeds off Kidd's leadership.

"It's all about our leader, Jason Kidd," Terry said. "The way he plays the game, the way he has always played the game rubs off."

Terry went on to say how Kidd preaches making the extra pass because you never know who might be open. With the game hanging in the balance, Terry's extra pass gave the Mavericks a little cushion.

With the Mavericks holding a two-point lead, Terry drove the lane and instead of forcing a tough shot, he made that extra pass, this one behind him to a wide-open Kidd.

The veteran made a 3-pointer from the top of the arch to give Dallas a 105-100 lead with 1:26 to play. A few sequences later, Terry hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 108-101 and the Mavericks were headed to South Beach with a 3-2 lead.

Kidd is trying to remain calm because he's been here before. He has lost in the NBA Finals twice with the Nets to two different teams. When he younger, Kidd was asked to lead his team in scoring and assists.

Now Kidd is a savvy veteran with an expected speech at a Hall of Fame ceremony in the not-so-distant future. He knows his career is coming to an end and hinted he might retire if a potential work stoppage cancels the 2011-12 season. But Kidd says he's feeling good from a physical standpoint and wants to keep playing.

"I'm just staying in the moment and understanding we have to find a way to win come Sunday," Kidd said. "Everything else will fall into place if we can find a way to win."

The Mavericks don't need him to lead in scoring. They just need him to hit open shots, protect the ball and play solid defense. Kidd was the one taking on Dwyane Wade in the second half Thursday, but down the stretch he trusted his gut and allowed Shawn Marion to take over.

A smart veteran move.

"You're never too young or too old to always improve your game," Kidd said. "At 38, I've always felt that I had to improve my shooting if I want to be on the floor and help my teammates out. As I've gotten older, it's just about timing and not so much scoring 20 points or having 15 assists or 10 rebounds. It's just being at the right place at the right time."