Around the Rim: Jason Kidd is getting in the groove


1. Second verse, better than the first
The second round of the Jason Kidd experiment in Dallas got off to a rough start as their new acquisition managed five assists and six turnovers in his debut. In two games since then, Kidd has been well worth the wait, producing 32 dimes in a pair of victories. On Sunday, Kidd kicked out a season-high tying 17 assists to go with 12 points and seven rebounds in a 99-83 Mavericks win in Minnesota. Dirk Nowitzki was on the receiving end of several passes from his new best friend as he racked up 29 points and eight rebounds. The T-Wolves played a fairly decent game, shooting 49.4 percent, but they got absolutely blasted at the charity stripe. Minnesota shot just 5-of-9 from the free throw line while Dallas took 27 trips to the line, connecting on 22 attempts. Al Jefferson scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the defeat.

2. Blazers postseason chances take a huge hit

Portland gave Boston a good run for its money on Sunday night, but Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were too much for the Blazers to handle, nailing four 3-pointers apiece in a 112-102 victory. Last game out, the Celtics fell to Shaquille O’Neal and the Suns with Pierce producing a paltry eight points. In Portland, Pierce was on fire, connecting on 12-of-14 shots for 30 points while Allen went 7-for-8 en route to 19 points. The duo was so pinpoint they didn’t even need the third third of the Big Three; Kevin Garnett finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. The loss was bad for Portland who is trying to claw its way back into the playoff picture, but it wasn’t even close to being the worst part of the night. Brandon Roy suffered a right ankle sprain in the third quarter and although he had yet to undergo an MRI, he speculated that he could be out of action for up to two weeks.

3. The Big Disappointment
Just one day after knocking off the best team in the entire NBA, the Suns were absolutely obliterated by the Pistons, losing by 30 points in their own gym. Detroit jumped all over Phoenix early and never let up as they rolled to a 116-86 victory with Rasheed Wallace’s 22 points pacing six Pistons in double-digits. Amare Stoudemire led the Suns in scoring, finishing with 31 points, but Phoenix is now 1-2 during the Shaquille O’Neal era. The Big Cactus crashed the boards, grabbing 11, but only put up seven points on offense while reminding the world he still can’t hit free throws (1-8 FT). The big question now is does this loss say more about Phoenix’s new look or does it help signify Detroit as truly the best team in the East?

Sunday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James vs. Memphis 39 min, 25 pts (FG: 10-17, 3FG: 1-4, FT: 4-5), 7 reb, 11 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Sunday’s Game to Watch: Detroit (41-15) @ Denver (33-22)
Detroit has to be feeling pretty good after humiliating the Suns in Phoenix and snapping its 11-game win streak versus Eastern Conference teams, but winning in Denver is no easy task. The Nuggets are 22-6 on their home floor and unlike Detroit, if they extend their current two-game losing streak then they could easily fall out of the playoff race in the West which should provide ample motivation for not only Denver, but every team in the conference. It’s going to be like the All-Star game all over again tonight with five participants from that contest playing in this contest – Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton.

Buzzer Beater: There was no real reason why Kobe Bryant needed to stick around, so with about four minutes left in the third quarter and the Lakers enjoying a 31-point lead over Seattle, he decided to take the rest of the evening off. Actually, referee Brian Forte made the decision for him, slapping Bryant with a pair of technicals after the league’s second-leading scorer started popping off at the mouth. Bryant had 21 points and 10 assists when he was tossed, but it didn’t matter in the end as the Lakers cruised to a 111-91 win.

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