Local Kidd assists West win

All-Star point guard shines in hometown

East falls, 137-126

February 14, 2000|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jason Kidd left here eight years ago, going to nearby Berkeley to star at California for two seasons before embarking on an NBA career that took him first to Dallas and later to Phoenix. He has been back many times to play the Golden State Warriors in mostly low-profile games.

Yesterday, on the stage of the league's 49th All-Star Game, Kidd came back to his hometown and left again as the most luminous player on the court.

Behind Kidd's dazzling passing, the favored West team beat the East, 137-126, at The Arena in Oakland. The 26-year-old point guard finished with 14 assists, many of them alley-oop passes that his high-flying teammates turned into thunderous dunks.

While he didn't win the Most Valuable Player Award -- Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs shared it with Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers -- Kidd was not overlooked.

"When he was on the court," said East coach Jeff Van Gundy of the New York Knicks, "they were a more dominant team."

In winning for the first time in four years, the West had too much size with a starting frontcourt of O'Neal (22 points, nine rebounds), Duncan (24 points, 14 rebounds) and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett (24 points, 10 rebounds).

They also had too much teamwork, their 42 assists falling four short of a record.

Kidd orchestrated most of it.

"I told the guys, they make the game so easy," said Kidd, who scored 11 points. "I threw the ball up there and they got it and finished it."

So did Gary Payton, the other All-Star returning to his hometown. The Seattle SuperSonics point guard, Kidd's backup on this team, helped the West break open the game in the fourth quarter. It was also the lack of a true point guard for the East at a key juncture -- if any juncture could be called key in this midseason showboating showcase -- that proved the difference for the West.

After the East had come back three times from double-digit deficits to take its only lead, 97-95, on a three-point shot by Milwaukee's Glenn Robinson with 30.1 seconds left in the third quarter, the West scored the last four points of the quarter in an 18-6 run to go ahead by 10.

It was all over but the dunking, including a left-handed jam by Duncan with a little over a minute left.

"It was an incredible display of versatility and power at the same time," West coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers said later of Duncan's off-hand jam.

That description could be applied to the West's starting team. All five were chosen for this year's U.S. Olympic team, though O'Neal declined the invitation. It was more than enough to counter an East team that was led by Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson (26 points, nine assists).

Asked how the West squad would do as an NBA team, Van Gundy said, "I tell you, they'd set a record for wins. They would lose, but I don't know to who. I could play guard for that team and they'd win big."

Van Gundy said that not having a point guard on the floor for several minutes in the fourth quarter hurt his team's chances of another comeback. He had considered using Grant Hill, who had played spottily in 19 nondescript minutes, but the Detroit Pistons star had lost a contact lens.

"We made a couple of turnovers," Van Gundy said. "But I wanted everyone to come away enjoying the experience."

The MVP voting seemed a little suspect, given the performances by Garnett and Kidd. Though they held the trophy aloft together for the cameras, O'Neal said to Duncan, "You got one of them [championship] rings, I'm taking this." Who's too argue with a guy who goes 7-1 and 330?

Giving O'Neal the award might have been payback for 1996, when the then-Orlando Magic center scored 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a 129-118 All-Star Game victory in San Antonio. But Michael Jordan took home another piece of hardware after scoring 20 points for the East.

"I wasn't really thinking about it," said O'Neal, who sat out the fourth quarter last night after banging his shoulder. "I just came here to have fun. This award is very nice, but I'm trying to get the big-picture award and Tim has the big-picture award. If I would not have won it today, I still would have moved on. I moved on in San Antonio when it was given to Mike."

Kidd moved on this time, leaving his hometown with some more memories of a career that started here on the hardscrabble playgrounds.

"Anybody could have been the MVP," Kidd said. "I really enjoyed watching those guys."

He had a great view for much of the night, as the ball left his hand and headed high toward the basket.

East 26 33 38 29 -- 126

West 33 31 35 38 -- 137

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