By Sean Hartnett
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The rivalry is reborn. Brooklyn defended their home court by defeating the Knicks, 96-89, in dramatic overtime fashion, but the rivalry sorely missed the man who made the Nets relevant for the majority of the first decade of the new millennium.
Jason Kidd missed his opportunity to suit up against his former team in Barclays Center while wearing a Knicks uniform. As Kidd sat out with back spasms, he watched helplessly from his couch as the Knicks folded in overtime.
Kidd’s value cannot be solely measured by statistics. His per game totals aren’t anywhere near his heyday statistics with the New Jersey Nets, but he still provides a cool, collected presence which rubs off on teammates when he’s on the court.
“He’s a big part of what we do,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson told reporters after New York’s overtime defeat. “He’s one of those veteran guys that can settle things down and help run the team when things aren’t going very smoothly.”
Without Kidd, the Knicks only managed 14 assists as a team and committed 14 turnovers. That’s not the kind of plus-minus Woodson demands. Their ball movement lacked the fluidity of games when Kidd and Raymond Felton were paired together in the Knicks’ backcourt.
Carmelo Anthony found little success in overtime. Melo did not get enough open shots in the overtime period. Had Kidd been on the court in overtime, he would have created the space needed for Anthony to take command in OT.
Woodson felt that his starting five couldn’t handle the demands of overtime.
“Well, fatigue set in,” Woodson explained. “Our starting unit went a lot of minutes. Their starting unit went a lot of minutes, but they had a little more energy than we did at the end. They made the plays and we didn’t tonight.”
While Anthony was electric for most of the game and scored 35 points, Felton went an embarrassing 3-for-19 from the field on Monday night. Felton also committed as many turnovers (five) as he did assists (five).
“I’m upset at myself. I had a bad shooting night,” Felton said after the loss. “I’m probably just as mad as any fan, any player, anybody you could think about.”
Kidd will turn 40 in March. The Knicks better hope his back troubles are only a short-term issue, as he’s key to their chances of finishing above the Nets at season’s end.
Woodson didn’t have any update on Kidd’s status after the game.
“I don’t know much yet. I know he’s back home, and we’ll evaluate him tomorrow and go from there,” he said.
Update: Kidd will not face the Bucks on Wednesday as he did not travel with the team to Milwaukee due to back spasms. Ronnie Brewer did travel and is expected to play. He dislocated his left finger against the Nets.
The number two spot in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs, and it appears the Nets and Knicks will battle for that position over the course of the NBA regular season.
A former Nets’ great may hold the key in how far the Knicks go this season.
How vital is Jason Kidd to the Knicks’ cause? Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.