Before and after. (Left: AP/Jason DeCrow; Right: Screencap via www.zagsblog.com)
Necessity has been the mother of a pair of pretty ridiculous inventions for New York Knicks guard Jason Kidd this season. First, a whack to the head from Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson during a Nov. 18 Knicks win opened up a cut that needed to be bandaged, and when the bandage wouldn't stay put on its own, Kidd chose to rock a tilted headband to keep the cut covered. It looked absurd, but the healing process required Kidd to wear it for a handful of games before retiring it last Wednesday before taking on the Charlotte Bobcats.
On Sunday evening, with the Knicks back home to face the Denver Nuggets after a three-game road trip, Kidd once again found his dome under siege, and once again took extreme (and extremely questionable) measures to protect his ample melon. Charles Curtis sets the scene at NJ.com:
[During the second quarter,] Kidd pump-faked near the Knicks' bench against Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, then drew a shooting foul by leaning in. He was hit in the head in the process. [...]
"It is part of the game," he said. "I have to be a little more cautious of the pump fake because everyone is flying at it. I have to protect myself."
About a minute and a half later, Kidd went to the bench to put a bag of ice on the rapidly rising bump, which was captured by Seth Rosenthal at Knicks blog Posting and Toasting and would later rise to about twice the size depicted there; he did come back with 3 1/2 minutes left in the quarter, assisting on a Carmelo Anthony 3-pointer and grabbing a defensive rebound before the Knicks headed into halftime up 61-58 on the visiting Nuggets.
When the Knicks came out to shoot around before the start of the third quarter, Kidd emerged wearing a smile ... and a blue hockey helmet, property of the on-hiatus New York Rangers.
After the game, Kidd explained the skull-covering decision to reporters, including Steve Popper of The Record of Bergen County, N.J.:
"I got creative," Kidd said. "They're not using them right now, so I thought we would put that on for compression purposes. I needed something to keep the swelling down because my teammates were killing me about how big my head was getting. That was the only thing we could think of."
Clearly, the compression technique worked; Kidd was marvelous in the second half, scoring 10 of his season-high-tying 17 points in the third and fourth quarters and dishing six assists without a turnover, including this absolute beauty for center Tyson Chandler off a double handoff screen-and-roll drawn up during a fourth-quarter timeout by Knicks head coach Mike Woodson:
Kidd finished with seven dimes to go with those 17 points, plus four rebounds and a steal, in 34 minutes of work as the Knicks held on to score a 112-106 win over Denver. Anthony led the way with 34 points on 10-for-24 shooting, six rebounds and two steals in his first game back after being lost to a lacerated left middle finger during last Wednesday's win over the Bobcats. But Kidd's influence continued to be felt on both ends of the floor — not only in terms of cliched and often difficult-to-pin-down "veteran leadership," but in actual on-court production.
Case in point: After the game, Kidd joked that he's not sure why everyone's biting on his pump fake, since the scouting report on him for most of his NBA career has been that he can't shoot. But if any advance reports on Kidd still include that line one-quarter of the way through this season, they're pretty out of date — the 39-year-old has been stroking it at a 48.2 percent clip this season, including a sterling 50.8 percent mark from beyond the 3-point arc, both of which would be career bests for the 19th-year pro.
That kind of success begets defenders eager to contest the jumper, which will occasionally result in an unwelcome bonk, but much more often leads to a compromised defensive unit scrambling to cover four-on-five against a Knicks offense that has been the league's second-most potent through 20 games, trailing only the Oklahoma City Thunder in points scored per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com's stat tool. I'm willing to bet the surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer point guard is pretty OK with taking the occasional bump on the noggin to ratchet up the chance of grabbing an easy two or, even better, swinging the ball to an open man in the short corner for an easy three.
After all, it's always nice to be on the power play.
Video of the out-of-bounds play via Maciej Kwiatkowski.
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