Mavs-Spurs was a classic last night. Avery Johnson coached it like a playoff game, using only an eight-man rotation. Dirk was good and Duncan was great and Bruce Bowen was sharpening his elbows for the post-season. Fascinating, riveting stuff. Dallas led by 10 in the third. The Spurs came roaring back. The Mavs had a shot to win it, trailing by two with 34 seconds remaining. This, ladies and gents, was Jason Kidd time.
It’s precisely why Dallas traded half the team and all the future for him. To lead. To finish. Right? Right?! RIGHT??!!
Um, apparently not.
Unless I’m pulling the ol’ Andy Pettitte “misremembered” trick, I coulda sworn Avery just last week praised his new acquisition as a leader and, yep, a closer. But with 34 seconds left, Avery yanked Kidd and inserted Jerry Stackhouse. After Dirk missed twice and Bowen blocked Jason Terry’s shot, the Spurs escaped, and the dookie flew into the oscillating wind machine.
“Well, we were looking at spreading the floor with all of our shooters in the game,” Johnson tried to explain. “We wanted to put in Stack, Josh and Jet, and that gave Dirk some more room to operate in those situations. Our spacing was good.”
Ya know what, doesn’t matter if Avery’s strategy worked or not. Either way, it’s a shitty move. One that could haunt the Mavs for a while. Kidd can’t lead or finish from the bench, and what kind of empowerment does he get by getting pulled just before the money shot?
I covered the team when Kidd issued a me-or-Jim-Jackson ultimatum and when he led a revolt against coach Jim Cleamons’ triangle. The dude also ran coach Byron Scott out of New Jersey on the heels of two trips to the NBA Finals. Point is, he usually gets his way. Be careful, Avery. Be careful.
More importantly, be smart. Or at least just not idiotic.
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Three dead-ball opportunities in the last half-minute, and it never occurred to the not-so-distant Coach of the Year that it was asinine to have Erick Dampier on the court and Jason Kidd on the bench?
To his credit, Kidd took the high road, saying “I support the move.” Dirk wasn’t so satisfied, telling inquisitive reporters “You have to talk to coach about that.”
I know. I know. Still too early to say “toldja so.” Can I at least think it? --Richie Whitt