GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Jason Kidd burst out of the starting gate of this basketball season like a man who had discovered the Fountain of Youth.
In November, the 39-year-old Knicks guard averaged 8.0 points and 3.4 assists while shooting 49 percent from beyond the arc, and by December, he had ramped it up to 9.9 points and 4.8 assists while making 42 percent from deep.
He was a major reason why the Knicks began the season with a torrid 18-5 record and was considered the team’s co-MVP along with Carmelo Anthony.
Remember when Kidd hit that game-winning 3-pointer against Brooklyn at the Barclays Center off a swing pass fromAnthony?
That was Dec. 11 but it might as well have been another lifetime ago.
After their hot start, the Knicks went 14-13, including a 1-3 stretch heading into the All-Star break. And it is no coincidence that Kidd’s declining level of play coincided with that stretch.
By January, Kidd’s production had fallen to 5.8 points and 3.2 assists and 33 percent shooting from deep, and this month it’s down to 3.0 points and 2.1 assists and 18 percent from long-range.
Kidd turns 40 March 23 and perhaps no one on the Knicks needed the All-Star break more than him.
“I feel great,” he said Tuesday ahead of tonight’s game at Indiana. “There’s nothing like the sun. We don’t get too much here in New York during the wintertime. I had a great trip, played a little golf. But just relaxed and thought about what we had to do to be successful in the second half.”
Kidd conceded that the Knicks moved the ball around the perimeter less and less after their hot start, relying more on isolation situations involving Anthony.
“We have to share the ball and help each other out,” Kidd said. “We were doing that in the first 20 games. I think we got away from that at the end, but when you have a guy like Carmelo, you tend to give him the ball and watch. We can’t rely on him to carry us the whole way.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson concurred.
“I think Carmelo knows that, too,” he said. “Carmelo is here to do one thing, and that’s help us win basketball games.”
The upcoming schedule is brutal.
The Knicks have 18 games in March, including six back-to-backs.
A schedule like that will certainly challenge an old team that includes not only the soon-to-be-40-year-old Kidd but Rasheed Wallace (38) and Marcus Camby (38), who are both trying to work their way back from injuries.
“We have a lot of basketball here in the upcoming month, but we have everybody healthy and ready to go,” Kidd said. “That’s a good sign and we just have to play our part, if we can do that, luck is on our side, hopefully we can win.”
The Knicks could certainly use a dose of the Jason Kidd that flashed his Fountain of Youth skills during the first two months of the season.
“Just help my teammates win,” Kidd said. “Hopefully, put guys in a position to to be successful and at the end of the day hopefully we can be holding that trophy.”
Photo: NY PostFollow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.