NEW YORK, N.Y. – Jason Kidd lofted a perfect lob, and just like so many times before, Kenyon Martin went up high to slam it down.
Even at 40, Kidd is still playing one of the NBA’s most demanding positions. And Martin, after sitting at home most of the season, is back to playing above the rim at a time when so many Knicks big men are sitting down.
Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points, Martin had another big game against Toronto, and New York finished off a home-and-home sweep of the Raptors with a 110-84 victory Saturday night.
J.R. Smith added 25 points for the Knicks, who beat the Raptors for the second straight night and won their fourth consecutive game. Martin had 18 points and seven rebounds a night after he had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the Knicks’ victory in Toronto that clinched a playoff berth.
“He’s doing a little bit of everything for us. Major plus for our ballclub, I tell you that,” coach Mike Woodson said.
DeMar DeRozan scored 17 points for the Raptors, who played without leading scorer Rudy Gay because of a bad back and lost their fourth straight.
“The turnovers was probably the No. 1 aspect of the game the hurt us. Had 18 with 25 points. That was the most disappointing, the type of turnovers that we had,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Couldn’t get Carmelo under control. They’re one of the most lethal 3-point shooting teams. They were getting their rhythm back, so that caused a problem. I thought the fight was there.”
Kidd had three points, three rebounds and two assists on his 40th birthday. He sees nothing extraordinary about what he’s doing, seeming far more interested in watching California, his college team, play than talking about his own game.
“My job is to find the open guys and when I have the opportunity to take a wide-open 3, take it,” Kidd said. “But the game was pretty much under control, so there was no need to look to score, but just to play defence and make sure nobody got hurt.”
Knicks rookie Chris Copeland led a rendition of “Happy Birthday” before the game for Kidd, but the night belonged to Martin, Kidd’s teammate in New Jersey long ago who has helped the Knicks overcome a number of injuries in their frontcourt.
He hadn’t even played in the NBA this season until the Knicks signed him late last month, but has stepped into the starting lineup as an undersized centre with Tyson Chandler out and shot 7 of 11.
Anthony scored 11 points in the first quarter, but the Knicks led only 21-17. They opened it up late in the second aided by Martin’s energy and ferociousness, starting with a follow dunk in which he stood screaming behind the basket.
He and Kidd hooked up on an alley-oop dunk, then he and Iman Shumpert blocked shots on the same possession. Martin then cut behind the defence and Anthony whipped a pass into him for a basket while being fouled with 7 seconds left in the half.
Martin made the free throw for a 59-47 lead as fans chanted his name on the same floor where he was once an enemy when he and Kidd were leading the Nets to a four-game sweep of the Knicks in the 2004 playoffs.
“It’s amazing that we’re able to hook up back together, you know what I’m saying?” Martin said. “Whoever thought that it would be in a Knick uniform, but I’ll take it.”
Kidd is now a reserve and the Knicks are trying to manage his minutes before a playoff run. But even in a limited role, he has made a huge impact on a team that lacked veteran leadership for so long.
He is second in the NBA’s career list behind John Stockton in assists and steals, third in 3-pointers made, and fourth in minutes played. He won a title in Dallas, resurrected a franchise in New Jersey, and won two Olympic gold medals during an undefeated international career at the senior level.
But even with all those accomplishments, Kidd’s intelligence often comes up first among those who marvel at his ability to keep playing point guard in the NBA at his age.
“He’s brilliant. His mind is brilliant,” Chandler said recently. “Hopefully we can freeze it, or something like that. Leave it for the next generation.”
The Knicks hit 15 of 22 shots (68 per cent) in the second quarter and were never threatened from there.
There were 14 fouls called in the third quarter, including a fragrant on Anthony when he shoved Landry Fields after his former Knicks teammate banged his shoulder into Anthony’s midsection while dribbling.
“It was just a heat of the moment-type thing. Probably a misunderstanding,” Fields said. “We were cool after the game. Just, you know, wished each other well for the rest of the season. … It was probably just competitive nature.”
The Knicks kept pulling away, going 21 of 23 on free throws and shooting 52 per cent from the field.
NOTES: With Gay missing his third game this month with back problems, Casey said he assumes the organization will discuss shutting him down. Gay was getting therapy Saturday, and Casey said any decision could be based on how he responds to that. “I would say that it’s something that will be talked about sooner rather than later,” Casey said.