Mavericks-Knicks Preview

The Associated Press

Jason Kidd helped the Dallas Mavericks to their first NBA title two seasons ago.

Right now, the New York Knicks just want the 39-year-old guard to contribute to their best start in 19 years.

The Knicks look to maintain their status as the NBA's only unbeaten team Friday night when they host the streaking Mavericks.

Kidd spent the last four-plus seasons running the point for Dallas (4-1), helping the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA championship along with current teammate Tyson Chandler, but New York (3-0) signed him to a three-year, $9 million free-agent contract this summer.

The move is paying dividends for the Knicks in the early going as they seek their longest season-opening winning streak since starting 7-0 in 1993-94. Kidd is contributing 9.0 points per game while making 8 of 14 from the floor.

Kidd's only shot in Monday's 110-88 win at Philadelphia was a made 3-pointer, one day after he had 12 points and six assists to help open the home-and-home set with a 100-84 victory.

While Kidd is giving the Knicks a strong veteran presence, Carmelo Anthony has been the primary force while averaging 26.0 points and 7.3 rebounds. The superstar forward is also aiding New York's stifling defensive play, with opponents averaging 85.3 points on 40.7 percent shooting.

"I'm trying to get Melo to do everything," coach Mike Woodson said. "I don't want him to be perceived as just a scorer. Melo has been defending for us. He's been rebounding for us, and that's what he's got to do. It's not just Melo. We gotta have 13 guys doing the things to help us win basketball games.

"Melo is playing at a high level right now and I expect him to continue playing at a high level."

Anthony struggled mightily in his most recent matchup with Dallas, a 95-85 road loss for the Knicks on March 6. He was 2 of 12 from the field to finish with six points, although he may have an easier time Friday with Mavs forward Shawn Marion expected to miss the second of at least three games with a knee injury.

The Knicks have dropped 18 of their last 21 matchups with Dallas, although they won the last meeting at Madison Square Garden 104-97 on Feb. 19 with Anthony out and Jeremy Lin in a starring role.

The Mavericks enter this visit averaging 116.3 points during a three-game winning streak after beating Toronto 109-104 on Wednesday. Their run has been especially impressive with Dirk Nowitzki still out recovering from right knee surgery.

"They're playing a little bit more up-tempo," Kidd said. "They're playing extremely well. They're 4-1 without Dirk. That shows they're a team that can play without their star. We gotta be ready because they're offensive minded and a team that can put up a lot of points."

O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman are big reasons for the Mavs' winning streak, with Mayo averaging 28.0 points during the run and Kaman 18.0 on 70.6 percent shooting.

"We've got guys picking it up while guys are injured," said Kaman, who had a season-high 22 points against the Raptors. "We're on a little bit of a roll and we're just going to try to keep it going."

New York's Marcus Camby is expected to make his season debut in his return from a calf injury. The center averaged 4.9 points and 9.0 rebounds with Portland and Houston last season.

What to Read Next