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Kidd ignites Mavericks past Timberwolves

Feb 25, 2008 - 3:12 AM By Peter Kapsner PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The trade for Jason Kidd may have been convoluted and confusing, but the Dallas Mavericks' new point man looked smooth and sharp all day against the worst team in the Western Conference.

Kidd scored 12 points, pulled down seven rebounds and dished out 17 assists to lead the Mavericks to a 97-83 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Dirk Nowitzki scored eight of his 29 points in the fourth quarter for Dallas, which outscored the Timberwolves, 26-12, in the final session after being deadlocked at the end of each of the first three quarters.

Kidd attacked Minnesota's defense continuously from a variety of angles. His 17 assists set a Mavericks' season-high, besting his own mark of 15 from Friday's 98-93 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

"It been fun (playing with Kidd)," Nowitzki said. "You get the ball in Jason's hands and he makes it fun for everybody. He's throwing passes that you think, 'No way are they ever going to get there,' but somehow he finds a way. It has been fun."

After a trade process that took over a week and involved two different scenarios, Dallas finally got Kidd in uniform on Wednesday. After a rough first start against the New Orleans Hornets, the perennial All-Star has totaled 32 assists against just five turnovers in the past two games.

"For me, it's just to play hard," Kidd said. "I'm out there executing the coach's game plan and finding the open guy and making it as easy as possible ... and have fun doing it while we're out there."

The game was closely contested in the first half as neither team was able to muster more than a seven-point lead.

After a 9-2 spurt, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Kidd, the Mavericks forged a 24-24 tie after the first quarter. The Wolves answered with an 14-8 run for that 38-32 advantage with 4:37 left until the break, but Nowitzki scored nine points in the final four minutes of the half to forge another tie, 48-48, at the break.

After a back-and-forth third quarter,Dallas opened the fourth quarter with yet another defensive stand, holding Minnesota to one field goal - a 3-pointer from Rashad McCants - in the first five minutes.

Although Minnesota briefly held close, it was a pair of baskets from Kidd around the five-minute mark as part of a 20-8 run that pushed the lead to 87-77 with 4:33 left in the game. The Mavericks were not threatened again.

"We have an All-Star point guard that wasn't going to let us lose," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "He knew what we needed to do. I gave him one or two things to think about, but other than that he knew how to run the team. He is a little more comfortable with the team and with me and vice versa."

Jason Terry added 20 points and Josh Howard chipped in 14 for Dallas, which held onto sixth place in the Western Conference, just 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers (38-17) at the top of the West.

"(We need) to take advantage of every game," Mavericks guard Jerry Stackhouse said. "It's good to get these couple of games in a row, get some momentum, get back home and hopefully be able to have a great big (win)."

When asked how he felt about returning to Dallas for the first time in Monday's game against Chicago, Kidd responded, "It's good to go back home after this three-game trip. I'll be nervous, but at the same time, I got the game under my belt in New Orleans. So it's just a matter of continuing to build on the last three games and put ourselves in a position to protect home."

Al Jefferson led the way with 22 points for Minnesota, but was held to just seven in the second half.

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