“I think I surprised both of us,” Kidd said.
What a pleasant surprise it was for the Mavs to see Kidd as spry as he’s been since the playoffs in his return from a four-game layoff to rest and rehab a strained right groin that had been nagging him all season.
Kidd had six points, seven assists, six rebounds, two blocks and one steal in his 22-minute stint in the win over the Kings. No, really, he had two blocks -- a third of his previous season total.
“For a guy that’s been out 10 days, it’s remarkable how he comes back and plays,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Almost always plays well the first game back and has a real impact. It’s a sight for sore eyes to see him out there and see him moving well, not be in pain.”
There was certainly reason to wonder whether the 39-year-old Kidd would be able to come back and establish himself as an impact player in time to make a difference in the Mavs’ fight for a playoff berth, much less a postseason run.
After all, Kidd has missed 15 games this season while dealing with a variety of geezer ailments: back, calf and groin strains. And he’s averaging career lows in points (5.9), rebounds (4.0) and assists (5.2).
Kidd’s numbers against the Kings were encouraging considering that his minutes were limited, as the plan was to sit him the entire fourth quarter. His relative quickness and explosiveness was especially exciting to the Mavs.
“When somebody comes back off of injury, you don’t really look at the basketball he plays,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “You look at the movement. I thought he moved well. He actually drove a couple of times, he had a spin move going to the cup, he had a blocked shot, which I haven’t seen basically since he’s been here.”
Dirk laughed at that last little jab, but the Mavs certainly aren’t joking about the importance of a fresh, rested, healthy Kidd with the season on the line.
Ideally, Kidd could have gotten some rest down the stretch. However, the Mavs don’t have that luxury while battling for a playoff spot. Carlisle will carefully manage Kidd’s minutes in the upcoming stretch of seven games in 10 nights, but the Mavs need their leader during crunch time.
Kidd feels as ready as he has all season.
“Overall, this is probably the best I’ve felt,” Kidd said. “Saying that, I just wanted to be aggressive, get the ball in the paint, make some things happen and get a win.”
The Mavs need the wins to keep coming. It’s sure help if their gray-haired point guard can continue resembling the Kidd from his golden-haired days.