Kidd and K-Mart, together again, spark win

April, 20, 2013
4/20/13
8:45
PM ET
When Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin played together for three seasons in New Jersey, leading the Nets to the 2002 and 2003 NBA Finals, their pick-and-rolls were the core of the offense.

Ten years later across the river, even though they're not the bread and butter of the Knicks' offense, they're still making an impact in their elder years.

[+] EnlargeKenyon Martin
Debby Wong/USA TODAY SportsKenyon Martin gave the Knicks a big boost on Saturday.
Even on defense.

That was the case down the stretch Saturday, when they combined for four steals in the fourth quarter -- three by Kidd -- helping the Knicks knock off the Celtics in Game 1 85-78. It's the first time since 2001 that the Knicks have won Game 1 in a first-round series.

"It's a great feeling," Martin said. "In crunch time, we were on the court and it felt like old times." Recognizing their efforts side by side after so many years apart, he said, "It couldn't be written any better. You couldn't script it."

At the start of the fourth quarter, Martin stripped Jeff Green on a driving layup. And on the other end, the Knicks forward had an offensive putback layup and-1, which gave the Knicks a two-point advantage 72-70. Later in the quarter, Kidd intercepted a Green pass and dove on the floor to retrieve the loose ball. That sparked Raymond Felton to get fouled in transition, increasing the Knicks' lead.

Carmelo Anthony referenced that sequence as being a turning point in the game.

"J-Kidd was spectacular," Anthony said. "For him to get that loose ball that was diving on the floor the way he did -- that was, believe it or not, a key play for us."

A few minutes later, when Green was down low with the ball, about to score, Kidd stripped him. Then the 40-year-old had a steal on Kevin Garnett, preventing the Celtics from making it a five-point game with 31 seconds remaining.

Afterward, Celtics coach Doc Rivers had the quote of the night, saying Kidd "beats everybody with his brain."

"I love watching him. I didn't like watching him today," Rivers added. "He just knows how to play. ... He just thinks, he's in the right place. It's a great example, if you think quicker and the guy can move, you're still quicker. And what's why he's there first, because he thought what the guy was going to do before the guy did it."

Kidd and Martin also put their stamp on the game in the first half. Near the end of the first quarter, Martin had two blocks in roughly a 30-second stretch, including an in-your-face rejection on a Jason Terry dunk attempt. Then, at the start of the second quarter, Kidd knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers.

To prove their value even more, with Pablo Prigioni sidelined with a sprained right ankle and Tyson Chandler playing only 20 minutes because he was winded, Kidd and Martin manned up for 35 and 28 minutes, respectively, off the bench. They combined for 18 points, while the Celtics' second unit as a whole scored only four.

"Kenyon kept balls alive, battling with Garnett inside. He had a couple of nice finishes," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "And Jason's been doing this all season. ... Loose balls, strips, he just seems to keep the ball alive. He just seems to be in the right place at the right time."

Even though Kidd and Martin are not connected in the same way offensively, their veteran experience is unmatched. They have played a combined 248 playoff games -- the third-highest total for an active duo, behind only Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and Garnett and Paul Pierce.

"That was the whole reason for bringing them onboard," Woodson said. "They have been in enough systems. Kidd has won pretty much everywhere he's been, Kenyon's been on winning teams. ... To me, it's a plus to have veteran guys."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

NEW YORK CALENDAR