DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki was ejected. A 16-point lead had dissolved into a four-point deficit. And that recent 13-game winning streak was looking like something that happened a long, long time ago.
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Kidd scored a season-high 26 points, most of it coming during a game-breaking spurt at the start of the fourth quarter that sent the Mavericks to a 106-96 victory against the Clippers on Tuesday night.
"Since Dirk was gone, I thought I would play Dirk today," said Kidd, who made 10 of 21 shots, including 6 for 11 on 3-pointers. "I had some great looks early on that went in and out. Earlier in my career, I would've stopped shooting because I missed a couple. But I thought the team needed some scoring, so I stepped up."
Since their long winning streak, the Mavs had lost three of four games. They were coming off back-to-back losses, including a spanking in New Orleans the night before.
They came out strong, scoring 62 points in the first half and were comfortably ahead when Nowitzki didn't like a foul call against him with 9:16 left in the third quarter.
Nowitzki told official Bill Kennedy what he thought of the call. Kennedy responded by calling a technical foul, screaming, "Bam! Right there!" and pointing at Nowitzki. Nowitzki apparently said something else because he got hit with another technical foul and an automatic ejection.
Without their leading scorer -- and on a night when Nowitzki had already scored 18 points in 19 minutes -- Dallas finished the quarter trailing by a point.
"That was a bad decision by Dirk," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "It put the team in a terrible situation and he knows it was wrong. If you get a technical, you get one and make your point and you got to let it go. He is too important to us."
To start the fourth quarter, Carlisle sent out a lineup featuring four guards and center Brendan Haywood. Then Kidd got things rolling by throwing an alley-oop pass to rookie Rodrigue Beaubois for a go-ahead dunk that brought fans to their feet. The Mavs fed off that energy to go on a 22-3 run, with Kidd doing most of the damage.
He had 13 points, three assists and a steal during that stretch. It included a pair of 3-pointers, one of them hitting the rim, the backboard, the rim again, then falling through. He finished the game with his most points since late in the 2007-08 season, back when he was 35, along with 12 assists and six rebounds.
"He's a legend, a great player," Clippers guard Baron Davis said.
Said Carlisle: "I thought he willed the team with his energy and his enthusiasm. He got guys engaged and, you know, it wasn't just play-making -- it was shot-making, it was assists, it was defensive plays -- it was, you know, giving guys confidence out there. ... He is just phenomenal."
Kidd was especially proud of the way the defense clamped down. Los Angeles made only 5 of 22 shots in the fourth quarter.
"We're pretty good when we do that," Kidd said. "We might make or miss on the other end, but when we get stops that definitely helps us. We haven't been getting stops of late. After that little 13-game streak we had, we stopped doing that."
This victory, and a loss by Denver, tied the Mavericks and Nuggets for the second-best record in the Western Conference.
The Clippers lost for the 10th time in 11 games, and for the 11th consecutive time on the road.
Drew Gooden, who started the season with Dallas and was traded to Washington in February, had a season highs of 26 points and 20 rebounds for Los Angeles.
"I still feel like they're family," Gooden said. "This game meant a lot to me."
Chris Kaman added 22 points and nine rebounds. Rasual Butler and Eric Gordon each scored 16 points, and Davis 11, but the Clippers got only five points from their bench. Four reserves went a combined 2 for 10.
"I was disappointed that our bench didn't help us," coach Kim Hughes said. "I think if our bench would have performed we would have won the game."
|Jason Kidd can't take his birthday off. He takes on the scoring load to help Dallas hang on. (Getty Images)|
|L.A. Clippers (26-45)||24||24||29||19||96|
|Dallas (47-24) «||32||30||14||30||106|
|LAC:D. Gooden 26 Pts
LAC:D. Gooden 20 Reb
LAC:B. Davis 13 Ast
|DAL:J. Kidd 26 Pts
DAL:B. Haywood 10 Reb
DAL:J. Kidd 12 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|R. Butler, SG||39||5-14||3-4||4||0||1||16|
|E. Gordon, SG||39||4-12||6-10||5||0||1||16|
|D. Gooden, PF||39||8-21||10-10||20||2||3||26|
|C. Kaman, C||37||10-17||2-2||9||1||2||22|
|B. Davis, PG||35||4-13||2-2||6||13||2||11|
|T. Outlaw, SF||19||1-7||0-0||2||0||2||3|
|S. Blake, PG||18||1-2||0-0||1||4||2||2|
|D. Jordan, C||10||0-1||0-2||3||0||2||0|
|C. Smith, PF||4||0-0||0-0||0||0||2||0|
|B. Skinner, PF||Did Not Play|
|B. Brown, PG||Did Not Play|
|S. Novak, SF||Did Not Play|
|M. Collins, PG||Did Not Play|
|B. Griffin, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|J. Kidd, PG||41||10-21||0-0||6||12||2||26|
|C. Butler, SF||33||2-9||0-0||6||1||1||4|
|S. Marion, PF||27||6-13||0-0||6||1||3||12|
|D. Nowitzki, PF||19||8-11||1-1||2||2||3||18|
|E. Dampier, C||18||1-5||1-2||6||0||1||3|
|J. Terry, SG||32||6-12||2-3||0||7||1||14|
|B. Haywood, C||30||4-5||4-5||10||1||1||12|
|R. Beaubois, PG||15||3-6||3-4||3||0||3||10|
|E. Najera, PF||13||1-4||0-0||2||0||1||2|
|J. Barea, PG||9||1-3||3-4||1||0||0||5|
|D. Stevenson, SG||3||0-1||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|T. Thomas, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Carroll, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|