Kidd Gets a Little Help From Dirk

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Portland Trail Blazers probably wish Jason Kidd didn't try some of Dirk Nowitzki's tips on shooting 3-pointers.

    Soon after Jason Kidd rejoined the Dallas Mavericks in 2008, he made a savvy move. He asked Dirk Nowitzki for advice about shooting 3-pointers.

    Some tips he used, some he didn't. Among the discards was spreading out the first two fingers on his shooting hand.

    Earlier this month, during some forced days off and in the midst of an awful shooting slump, Kidd finally decided to give it a try. The Portland Trail Blazers probably wish he hadn't.

    Kidd made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points to help lead the Mavericks to a victory in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Blazers on Saturday night. Kidd scored three points more than he had in any game this season and it was his most in a playoff game since 2005.

    "Jason was aggressive last night," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said Sunday. "He understood the situation. He was the guy that was getting open shots and he stepped into it."

    Portland coach Nate McMillan said Sunday he told his players to start guarding Kidd more closely after his second 3-pointer swished through the net. McMillan could tell Kidd was in a rhythm, and he wanted his guys to snap him out of it.

    They didn't. Blazers point guard Andre Miller gave Kidd credit for hitting "some tough shots, but half of them were uncontested."

    However, it's easy to understand why Miller and his teammates were reluctant to take Kidd more seriously as a deep threat. Over four regular-season games between these teams, Kidd was 4 of 14 from behind the arc. That includes an 0-for-5 outing when they met just two weeks ago.

    But that was Kidd's fourth game in five days, and his 77th of the season. Having just turned 38, Kidd needed a break, so Carlisle gave him an entire week off.

    The semi-vacation didn't mean Kidd went to the beach; it only excused him from two games. He was still working out, and in those sessions he started tinkering with "the V," as he called it, holding up his right hand like a pitcher showing off a two-seam fastball grip.

    "It's something that's helped me keep the ball straight," Kidd said. "Short or long, as I learn as a shooter, those are easy to fix. Going left or right, those are a little bit harder."

    In Kidd's first two games following the layoff, he was 1 of 10 on 3-pointers.

    Then, in the season finale against New Orleans, he hit 4 of 6. Following that with the performance Saturday night clearly shows he's onto something.

    "I plan on doing it until I retire," Kidd said, smiling.

    For all the jokes about Kidd's wayward shooting -- many coming from Kidd -- he's actually made the third-most 3-pointers in NBA history.

    It's been a growing part of his game for nearly the last decade. Three years ago, he made more 3s than 2s for the first time in his career. This season, the imbalance was even more pronounced: 133 baskets from behind the arc compared to 82 inside the arc.

    Yet Kidd made only 34 percent of his 3-point attempts this season, his worst in seven seasons. That helps explain why he averaged a career-low 7.9 points per game.

    It also explains why the Trail Blazers were willing to leave him open so they could pay more attention to Nowitzki and other scoring threats, such as Jason Terry. Kidd knew it, too, and was ready to try taking advantage.

    "I just felt I needed to be aggressive," Kidd said. "In the playoffs, they're going to make it tough on the guys who do score, so ... you need somebody to step up and I wanted to be that guy last night."

    Game 2 is Tuesday night, and Kidd expects to return to his usual role as a distributor.

    "I hope I don't have to score 24 a night," Kidd said. "Hopefully (being a scoring threat) is just going to open up the paint for my guys to get to the basket. At the same time, I've still got to be able to knock down open shots during the series."