DALLAS -- Jason Kidd finally got the message, the one he was hearing from his new coach, his new teammates and even from friends and family.
Although more comfortable as a distributor, Kidd showed Friday night that he can change his mind-set, scoring a season-high 21 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks past the Sacramento Kings 115-106 Friday night.
"If I didn't do it," he said, "they were going to write it on a piece of paper."
Kidd's reluctancy to shoot was part of the reason coach Avery Johnson benched him for the final 34 seconds of a pivotal game against San Antonio the night before. Despite a pregame visit in which Johnson once again urged him to look for his shot, Kidd put it up only four times in the first half. Then it all finally clicked.
Kidd got off nine shots in the third quarter and five in the fourth for a total of 18. He made nine of them. And, being Jason Kidd, he also had 11 rebounds and nine assists, falling one dish shy of his 100th career triple-double and first since rejoining the Mavs. His all-around play sparked runs of 18-0, 15-0 and a 10-2 spurt after Dallas led only 103-102 in the closing minutes.
"It was fun to watch Kidd all over the court," said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 34 points and 10 rebounds. "He scored points in the post like we need him to do. He needs to become a scorer."
Jerry Stackhouse tied his season high with 23 points, the second time since Kidd arrived he's done that. Josh Howard added 20 points and nine rebounds for Dallas and Erick Dampier had 13 rebounds and three points, helping the Mavericks improve to 4-2 since Kidd arrived.
All the wins have come against teams with worse records, while the losses have come against teams with better records. Next up for Dallas are back-to-back games against teams with better records -- at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday and at Utah on Monday night.
Beno Udrih and Kevin Martin each scored 25 points for the Kings, who lost their fourth straight overall and seventh in their last nine road games. Ron Artest added 22 points and Mikki Moore had 12 rebounds and nine points.
Udrih said the game hinged on two end-of-quarter runs led by Kidd, an 11-0 burst over the final 1:42 of the first and a 12-0 spurt over the final 1:52 of the third.
"I was trying to tell all my teammates that we have to be careful and make smart decisions," he said. "At the end of the first and third, we didn't do that."
Kidd said the last time he was told to be aggressive as a shooter was when he played for Danny Ainge in Phoenix in the late 1990s. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, Ainge and Johnson are former guards themselves, so they're more willing to give him the green light.
Still, it requires some getting used to.
"My brain is wired differently, I guess," Kidd said. "Scorers have more of a tunnel vision. ... Maybe I should get blinders like horses wear and be more an `I' guy, in a good way."
Of course, Kidd as a shoot-first point guard is rife for jokes -- like the nickname "World B." hollered out by Jamaal Magloire, who was Kidd's teammate in New Jersey this season before rejoining him in Dallas this week.
Yet for all his scoring prowess, Kidd's best highlight came from a pass at the end of the third quarter, one he made while diving out of bounds.
The Mavs already were on a 9-0 run when Kidd anticipated a pass and knocked it away. Going into the front row to save it, he threw the ball right to Nowitzki, who "was making noises behind me to let me know he was there -- like I didn't see him," Kidd said. The big German then banked in a 35-footer as the clock went off.
"Obviously the shot was lucky," Nowitzki said. "I just tossed it up there. But it was a big play. The momentum shifted there."
The Kings were closing an eight-day, five-game road trip and could've been weary, especially after blowing an early 11-point lead by missing 10 straight shots. But they never went away, even prolonging the game with fouls and timeouts in the final seconds after Dallas pulled away.
The only thing missing was Kidd's 10th assists -- a bit ironic considering fans were given cards with the letter 'A' to wave every time Kidd notched an assist.
- Dallas moved to 25-3 at home, matching Utah for best in the NBA.
- A chili-shaped blimp used for a halftime promotion had trouble exiting the arena at the start of the third quarter, blocking the view of several sections of fans. The dilemma was solved by raising it to the rafters.
- Howard had hit 20 points only once in his previous nine games.
- The Kings waived Tyronn Lue, who was acquired from Atlanta in the Mike Bibby trade. He didn't play any of the six games he was on the roster because of an injury.
- Johnson coached the Mavs despite a 101-degree fever earlier in the day.
- Fashionably late, Cowboys WR Terrell Owens arrived shortly before halftime. He's pals with the Malouf brothers, owners of the Kings, from his days in San Francisco.