DALLAS -- For the old man, Saturday night seemed like old times. And for the kid, perhaps it was another step toward a bold, new day.
Jason Kidd and Rodrigue Beaubois, starting in the backcourt for just the third time this season, combined to lead the short-handed Dallas Mavericks to a high-energy and desperately needed 106-99 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Mavs won over a team with a winning record for the first time since Feb. 20. Kidd drained four 3-pointers for the first time since Feb. 15 and only the third time this season. His fourth 3 pumped the lead back to 10 with 7:54 to play. His 14 points and 10 assists gave him his first double-double of the season.
The 3-point barrage prompted Spurs point guard Tony Parker -- who famously applauded Kidd's trade to Dallas in 2008 because he had a nice little streak going against the graybeard nearly 10 years his senior -- to pay Kidd something of a backhanded compliment.
"He shot the ball well," Parker said, "and we didn't expect that."
Parker had a more traditional compliment for Beaubois, the Mavs youngster some six years Parker's junior and something of a Parker starter kit right down to his burgeoning floater. The French-speaking Beaubois fashioned his fourth consecutive double-digit scoring game with 16 points (including two pressure jumpers in the fourth quarter), a career high-tying eight rebounds and workmanlike defense against the Frenchman. Parker was limited to 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting with 11 assists.
"He played good, too, and he played with confidence tonight," Parker said. "He was knocking down shots on the pick-and-roll, and we were going under them [the picks] instead of contesting his shots."
Consider that progress for Roddy B. Teams have dared him to make the midrange jumper by rolling under the screens. If he continues to can eight of 12 shots from inside the arc (he was 0-of-4 from outside it, with his final attempt -- an air ball with 4:16 to play -- signaling an end to his night after 35 minutes), defenses will be forced to change strategies.
For Beaubois, it was his fourth consecutive solid outing, averaging 15.3 points on 59 percent shooting (26-of-44), and that's going 2-of-10 from deep. But perhaps most impressive Saturday night was his defensive acumen against his mentor.
Beaubois might have been an accidental starter Saturday because Shawn Marion missed his first game of the season with a sore left knee that's bothered him for weeks, but it opened the door as to whether he should be the starter next to Kidd during this crucial stretch of 10 consecutive games against teams in playoff position.
As of Saturday, the Mavs are 1-0 in those games.
"I'm not going to talk to you about lineups," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I love everything about Roddy right now. We'll evaluate it. We've got to see what our health situation is."
Against the Spurs, Carlisle had little choice but to start Beaubois and let him go after Parker from the start.
And that's what he did. Beaubois logged 20 minutes in the first half; Parker played 17. He was on the floor virtually every minute Parker was until the final four minutes, after the air ball, when Carlisle returned Jason Terry to crunch time and he responded with two 3-pointers in the final 2:46 to keep the Spurs at bay.
"The way he handled pick-and-roll situations offensively and then defensively being inserted into the lineup to kind of contain Tony Parker was pretty darn good," Terry said. "He's out there playing confident, and when you're playing confident, good things will happen. For him, it's all about his decision-making and maintaining his aggressiveness."
Beaubois attacked the paint consistently and managed to keep Parker out of it. With the string of opponents the Mavs face this week, starting Monday night at Denver against point guard Ty Lawson, then Wednesday against the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and newcomer Ramon Sessions, and then at the Spurs on Friday, Beaubois' quickness on both ends makes more sense than a starting backcourt of Kidd and Vince Carter. Carter started at small forward, and had 10 points, including a key 3 in the fourth quarter, and six rebounds Saturday.
Remember, Delonte West started the majority of the games with Kidd, beginning with the second half of the season-opener against Miami, for defensive matchups.
"Tonight we fell into it [the starting lineup], obviously, because Shawn is out," Terry said. "But if this was a playoff series, could you foresee that lineup? I could. And that's something that we have to continue to look at."
West will eventually return, likely in a couple of weeks, from a fractured right finger, and then Carlisle will have more options. For now, as long as Beaubois seems to have found a groove, the starting lineup might be the best place for him.
How things change. He was removed from the starting lineup on the final game of the regular season a year ago because he couldn't be trusted on the defensive end. Now, he is trying to turn the tables.
"It gives us another scorer, a guy who can defend, and he showed that he can rebound," Kidd said. "He's developed. I think he's feeling very comfortable, and that's the biggest part."
It's only four games. But those four games offer plenty of hope that the dynamic player the Mavs have been waiting on could be emerging at the most crucial point of the season.