Jason Kidd was saying all the right things, even kidding a bit, about being taken out of the New York Knicks’ starting lineup during a stretch in which he now is 0 for 10 on 3-point attempts.
Might have made things easier Friday night that New York won its third game in a row, 96-88 over Washington, thanks in large part to Carmelo Anthony’s 30 points, Raymond Felton’s 23 and solid defense that held the Wizards without a field goal over the final 4 minutes Friday night.
Despite Kidd’s stat line – 28 minutes, four points, five assists, five fouls, and 0-for-4 shooting on 3s – and the fact that he was on the sideline at the opening tipoff for only the second time in his 50 games this season, he was able to poke a little fun at himself.
”I didn’t come in this league as a scorer and it doesn’t look like I’m going to leave as a scorer,” Kidd said with the hint of a smile. ”The big thing is to keep taking those shots. They all feel good, look good. I’ll have to talk to the `3′ gods.”
That’s when a voice came from the left of Kidd, who turns 40 this month. It was Kurt Thomas, who already is 40 and didn’t play a minute Friday, pointing out that Kidd ranks No. 3 on the NBA career list for 3-pointers made.
”Thank you,” Kidd said in return.
Otherwise, Kidd emphasized that he and Coach Mike Woodson had discussed the lineup change in recent days ”and I was in agreement with whatever he needs me to do.”
In response to a reporter’s question, Kidd agreed that he figured he’d be a backup in this, his 19th NBA season, but that Woodson wanted him to start when the schedule began. Kidd would be fine, he explained, ”starting or coming off the bench or not playing.”
Said Anthony: ”We didn’t expect Jason to come in, play 35-40 minutes every night.”
Woodson insisted Kidd will come out of his recent shooting slump.
”One of these games, he’s going to bust loose, and he’s going to hit a big one, and we’ll forget all about the ones he’s missed,” the coach said. ”He’ll figure it out; he’s been around long enough.”
Until then, the Knicks have other scorers to rely on, none more prominent than Anthony, of course. And even if New York was looking ahead to its game Sunday afternoon against LeBron James and the reigning champion Miami Heat, Anthony made sure his team still picked up a victory over Washington along the way.
”We will be prepared for Miami,” said Anthony, whose 3-pointer with under 2 1/2 minutes remaining gave the Knicks a 92-87 cushion, and they held on.
Rookie Bradley Beal led the Wizards – who were missing Nene – with a career-high 29 points, falling just short of giving the team its first 30-point performance this season.
”My confidence is sky high,” Beal said.
But after his 3-pointer with about 4 minutes left pulled Washington within 87-86, the Knicks held the Wizards without a field goal the rest of the way.
”We had, I think, three or four … open-floor turnovers, where we didn’t get a shot and in a tight game, got to get an attempt,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. ”Taking care of the ball, down (in) crunch time, is the main thing that I think we’ve got to concentrate (on) and do a better job.”
John Wall had 16 points, six assists and five turnovers for Washington. Trevor Ariza scored 15, and Emeka Okafor finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Wizards were held to 42 percent shooting.
The Wizards were up 77-73 at the start of the fourth quarter, but missed seven field-goal attempts in a row over a 4-minute span and New York scored 10 straight points.
In one key sequence that began with Washington leading 77-75, Beal missed a 3-point try at one end, allowing Kidd to head the other way all alone. Wall gave chase and, just as Kidd tried to lay the ball in, the Wizards guard swiped his hand to block it. Goaltending was called, and Wall leaped in the air and punched a fist in anger, earning a technical, too. Anthony made the free throw to give New York a lead, and it never trailed again.
As for what Kidd’s role will be against the Heat?
”It’s up to Coach. We’ll see what Coach wants to do,” Kidd said. ”We had some success with it tonight. We’ll see what comes for Sunday.”
Notes: The Knicks’ current winning streak follows a season-worst, four-game losing streak. … In place of Kidd, New York’s James White got his seventh start of the season. He came in averaging 1.7 points and 0.3 assists in only 6.5 minutes. Against Washington, he had zero points, one rebound and one assist in 10 minutes. … The Wizards were without Nene (sore right shoulder) for a second consecutive game. Backup PG A.J. Price sat out with a bruised right thigh. … F Chris Singleton started in Nene’s place and finished with zero points in 20 minutes. … Beal’s first 3-pointer, in the first quarter, gave him a franchise rookie-record 76 this season – one more than Steve Blake made in 2003-04.