Sore back makes Jason Kidd questionable against Magic

Jason Kidd reacts after the Knicks lose to

Jason Kidd reacts after the Knicks lose to the Nets. (Jan. 21, 2013) (Credit: David Pokress)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Two things were questionable about Jason Kidd yesterday: his availability for tonight's Knicks game against Orlando and whether all the minutes he's played this season have caught up with him.

Actually, that second one isn't really questionable. Call it probable.

Kidd, who turns 39 in March, is fighting a sore back that limited him to five minutes in the Knicks' win over Atlanta Sunday night. He could go only 15 minutes in the game before that.

For the season, Kidd is averaging 28.5 minutes. When you consider that average includes four games in which he played 18 minutes or less, you realize coach Mike Woodson pushed Kidd hard during Raymond Felton's 12-game absence because of a broken right pinkie.

Not that Kidd complained. He has averaged 36.3 minutes per game in his (probable) Hall of Fame career and only grudgingly makes concessions to Father Time.

But this may be one of those times.

Or is it?

"I'll still play Kidd," Woodson said after practice. "Kidd's going to be my guy to [tell me] basically how I steer him. If he tells me, 'Hey, I need to back off,' I'm going to back off. Jason is a big piece of this puzzle and I need him when it really counts. And that's coming down the homestretch."

Woodson probably won't play Kidd when the Knicks host the 14-30 Magic in the second game of a five-game homestand filled with winnable contests. Kidd did not practice yesterday and was not available to speak to the media.

Without Kidd, who is averaging 8.0 points and 3.9 assists, Woodson will lean more on Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert to handle the ball when Felton sits.

Like Felton, Shumpert is working his way back from injury, as is Amar'e Stoudemire. Tyson Chandler is probable with a sore neck. Rasheed Wallace's foot injury could keep him out until after the All-Star break in three weeks, Woodson said. No one seems sure about Marcus Camby.

Felton, who will be playing in his third game since returning, said his hand is not 100 percent. But he was much better in his second game back than in his first.

"The first game, I really struggled shooting the ball, catching the ball, really everything, defense, everything was a struggle," Felton said. "When you're out for five weeks, it's kind of tough."

The Knicks were 6-6 without Felton. Their best play of the season came early in the campaign when he and Kidd were healthy. It's very probable the Knicks won't be able to go far in the playoffs without Kidd.

"He's a huge part of our offense as well as defense," J.R. Smith said. "He's guarding the toughest guy out there to start the game. His smarts and what he brings to timeouts after the huddles, you can't replace that."

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