Nets Insider: Nets Visit New York

Jason Kidd returns to Madison Square Garden for the 12th time on Friday.
01/18/2007 5:36 PM ET
By Al Iannazzone / Special to

Jason Kidd at Madison Square Garden. (AP)
Jason Kidd will play another game at Madison Square Garden Friday night, his 12th as a Net, fifth since Stephon Marbury declared he was the best point in the NBA, and first since filing for divorce. All of that said, it could be a good night for the Nets.

The exploits of Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller at the Garden were legendary. No visitors enjoyed the success and ripped the hearts out of the Knicks' faithful more than those two.

Much quieter , with less fanfare, and of course minus the last-second heroics, Kidd has been a Knick killer since calling New Jersey home in 2001.

Consider these numbers: The Nets are 20-4 against the Knicks and 10-2 at the Garden - both include playoffs - since Kidd arrived. With him in the lineup, the Nets are 19-2 overall and 10-1 at the Garden.

Of course, when Jordan and Miller buried the Knicks they were championship-caliber teams. The Knicks have been bad, only making the playoffs once since Kidd got here, and were eliminated by his Nets in four relatively easy first-round games.

You don't want to bet against Kidd, generally, but more so lately. He has a focus about him that is remarkable considering the state of his personal life. He has a bounce in his step and a drive that hasn't been seen since maybe his first season as a Net.

The way Kidd is playing, does Nets' management look to trade him because his value is so high or hold on to him and see if this group can turn it on and be a championship contender after all?

The Nets don't want to deal Kidd, and won't unless they are given the proverbial offer they can't refuse.

But they're looking and listening, seeing what's available because they want to put themselves in the best position for a title while Kidd is at the top of his game. That means listening for what Vince Carter or Richard Jefferson would garner.

If the Nets stand pat, it won't be a surprise either. Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski have already made a luxury-tax saving move and won't make another trade just to do it, especially one involving one of the Big Three, especially with the Nets rolling as well as they have all season.

Seven wins in nine games is what they take into the Garden in one of the very rare meaningful games against the Knicks in the last six years.

You can throw out the playoffs because the Knicks had no shot even if Tim Thomas thought Kenyon Martin was a "fugazy," which still ranks as one of the most entertaining interviews ever.

That first season with Kidd, when the Knicks had Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell and the Nets were trying to overtake them for area supremacy, probably were the most significant games.

The Nets swept them 4-0. Kidd averaged 14.5 points, 11.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.75 steals.

After that, you have to go to two seasons ago, when Kidd missed the first six weeks of the season and the Knicks actually were ahead in the standings on Jan. 1, 2005. The day before was when Marbury made his infamous claim.

The Nets won that game at the Garden and wound up passing the Knicks, who went into the tank after Marbury's boast.

That takes us to the present.

The Knicks are playing tough and hanging around, sitting two games behind the Nets, who are trying to regain some of that old form the way Kidd has. He's played well over the years, but he's back to being pre-microfracture knee surgery Kidd, and his off-season workout are a big reason.

"Sometimes you just rely on your talent and you could maybe get by with that," Kidd said. "I thought that if I could put some more time that maybe good things would happen and maybe it would improve my game. So far it's definitely helped."

In his last five games - four wins - Kidd is averaging 18.6 points, 10.2 assists and 8.8 rebounds. In his last 10 - seven wins - he's putting up 16.8 points, 8.4 assists and 8.0 rebounds.

The other day, two days after Kidd said he wanted to be on Team USA, he also said he wanted to be an All-Star this season. Kidd got the invite from USA director Jerry Colangelo and there's little doubt he will get voted on the East All-Star team by the coaches.

Kidd wants to be .500 before the Nets go West Sunday for five games. They would need to beat the Knicks and then the Magic Saturday. Right now, you don't want to bet against Kidd. Against the Knick at the Garden, you may never want to bet against him.

Here are No. 5's top 5 Nets' performances at Madison Square Garden (with huge props to Nets' PR assistant Matt Tumbleson for breaking it down so well).

1. Dec. 16, 2001 - Kidd hits Manhattan: He lets the New York and the Knicks know the Nets are for real with 18 points and 14 assists in an 18-point rout.

2. Jan. 4., 2004 - Kidd shoots, scores: He does it all, scoring 35 points, dishing for 13 assists and grabbing eight boards in 10-point win.

3. March 28, 2003 - In control: Kidd takes six shots, but controls game by recording 16 assists, seven boards and three steals in 21-point beating.

4. Dec. 17, 2002 - The one loss: Kidd scores 39 points and has 11 assists in the only game he has lost as a Net at the Garden, a two-point defeat.

5. April 25, 2004 - The clincher: Kidd shoots 50 percent, scores 20 points to go with eight boards and seven assists as Nets complete four-game sweep.

Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.). E-mail Nets Insider at comments