DALLAS (AP)—Jason Kidd came back to Dallas as a different player—and to a much better Mavericks team.
Forget the perennial losing Mav-Wrecks that Kidd played the first two-plus seasons of his career. Or the youngster still trying to figure out the NBA.
In his first home game for Dallas in more than 11 years, and since being traded from New Jersey last week, the All-Star point guard had 11 points with nine rebounds and eight assists in a 102-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
“It’s always a little nerve-racking coming back,” Kidd said. “I was so excited to have this opportunity and this second chance to come back and play for the franchise. I just wanted to make a good impression.”
After getting a loud rousing ovation when he was the last Mavericks starter introduced, instead of Dirk Nowitzki as usual, Kidd had the fans cheering a minute into the game with an assist on Josh Howard’s 3-pointer for the first basket that put Dallas ahead to stay.
“I was happy to be back home. This is where it all started for me,” Kidd said. “I didn’t get an opportunity with that franchise (the Mavericks of the mid-1990s) like this one. This is different and I’m going to take advantage of that.”
Kidd came up short of his 100th career triple-double, but was involved in significant plays throughout the game as Chicago kept coming back from double-digit deficit.
The Mavericks (38-19) won their 11th straight home game and are a game back in the Southwest Division behind San Antonio, where they next play Thursday. Dallas is only 1 1/2 games behind the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers, which is plays Sunday.
Dallas has won three straight games since losing their first game after the All-Star game with Kidd, who had practiced with the team only once by then.
“He still catches you off guard sometimes. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Nowitzki, who had 29 points and 10 rebounds. “We’ve improved from game to game. If you look at the West, you have to adjust quickly.”
After Ben Gordon’s 3-pointer got the Bulls within 86-77, Kidd saved a loose ball on the Dallas end and got it to Nowitzki for a 3-pointer with about 5 minutes left.
Before Chicago had closed to nine, the Mavericks had scored eight straight points: Josh Howard drove for a short jumper, Nowitzki grabbed a rebound and threw a long pass ahead to Jason Terry for a breakaway layup, then Terry had a steal and threw a similar pass to Kidd for a layup before Nowitzki’s jumper.
“It was really fun to watch,” coach Avery Johnson said. “We just weren’t a very good passing team and now we’re trying to become a better passing team. Because of that, you may have some mistakes (21 turnovers). But the way we’re starting to move the ball, I like it.”
Jerry Stackhouse matched a season-high with 23 points and Howard had 16 while Terry had 11 points and six assists. Before fouling out with 1:18 left, Erick Dampier set season highs with 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
“Anytime you’re playing against Jason Kidd, you know he’s going to find a way to come up with those loose balls. He did that and those decided the game,” Bulls coach Jim Boylan said. “We knew they were going to be sky high because it was Jason’s first game in Dallas.”
Gordon had 25 points to lead five Chicago players in double figures. Drew Gooden had 17 and Larry Hughes had 14. Luol Deng and Thabo Sefolosha were the only Bulls starters in double figures, with 10 points each.
The Bulls were within 62-59 after Gordon hit two free throws with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The Mavericks then scored 10 straight points, a run started with two rebounds by Kidd.
Kidd’s first rebound led to a 16-foot jumper by Brandon Bass. Terry then stepped into the paint and made a bounce pass back to Nowitzki for a 3-pointer, and after a steal made a lob pass to Stackhouse for an easy layup. After a Kidd steal, he went shared the ball with Terry, before Nowitzki hit another 3-pointer.
Kidd, the No. 2 overall pick by Dallas in 1994, played his first home game as a Maverick since Dec. 17, 1996, in a game at Reunion Arena, where the team played before moving to the more elaborate American Airlines Center in 2001.
“I was happy with the welcome,” Kidd said. “Hopefully, we’ll jell and this will be a team that teams are afraid of come playoff time.”
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich was ejected after getting two technical fouls in a matter of seconds late in the first half. He argued with official Monty McCutchen after a loose ball went out of bounds. Kidd and Hinrich were going for the ball. … Deng returned to starting lineup after missing the previous two games with left Achilles’ tendinitis. He missed the end of the third quarter because of a cut over his right eye, but returned for the start of the fourth quarter with four stitches covered by a bandage.