Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kidd's 100th triple-double sets up rematch

It took long enough, but it’s finally been figured out. Being the last day of the regular season, there wasn’t much choice.

Bring on the Hornets.

Mr. Triple-Double Jason Kidd quarterbacked a second-half rally setting up a first-round rematch with New Orleans. The Mavericks sprinted past their Southwest Division rivals 111-98 Wednesday night before 20,473 fans at sold-out American Airlines Center. The first-round series begins Saturday in the heart of Louisiana.

“I don’t know if we sent a message,” Avery Johnson said. “Everybody was out there trying to win the game and all of their guys played their normal minutes. Our guys played our minutes.

“We kind of looked at our rotation that we’d like to move forward with. One thing that is still pretty unclear for us about our rotation. But, for the most part, it is what it is. Now, Saturday ... I guess we’ll open up in New Orleans.”

The Hornets (56-26) return to the playoffs after a three-year absence and for the first time as a Western Conference member. New Orleans claimed the Southwest title and the No. 2 seed. The Mavs (51-31) are seventh after entering the postseason as the top seed a year ago.

“We didn’t care who we played, to be honest with you,” New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. “We know Dallas is going to be tough in the first round, Denver would have been tough, so it really didn’t matter. Either way it goes it is going to be a heck of a series. We got our hands full with whatever team we were going to play, but now we know we’re going to play Dallas, so it’s going to be a tough series.”

The Mavs and Hornets split the four-game season series, with each team winning twice on its homecourt. New Orleans was 30-11 at home this season, including wins in 12 of its last 13 games. But the Hornets head into the playoffs having tasted defeat.

“This was a big win for us because we were in control of our own destiny,” Kidd said. “I’ve always thought of the last regular season game as a good stepping stone going into the playoffs and we wanted to keep our momentum going.”

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