By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- Jason Kidd played a key role in the Mavericks winning the franchise's only NBA title two seasons ago, but he's not likely to get a warm reception upon his return to Dallas - particularly from owner Mark Cuban.
Kidd will try to help the New York Knicks continue their best start in 40 years Wednesday night when he visits his former team for the first time since leaving via free agency.
Kidd spent the last four-plus seasons running the point for Dallas (6-6), helping the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA championship along with current teammate Tyson Chandler.
His time in Dallas came to an end when he signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Knicks (8-1) this summer.
Cuban derided the move, questioning Kidd's loyalty and claiming his jersey won't be retired by the Mavs, despite his contributions on the court.
While Cuban has claimed he's planning to boo Kidd, the 39-year-old guard has been a key figure in a fast start by the Knicks, winners of eight of their first nine games for just the third time in team history.
The previous two times - the 1969-70 and 1972-73 seasons - New York went on to win its only championships.
The Knicks already own one win over the Mavericks this month, 104-94 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9. Kidd had six points, three assists and three steals in that game.
"I think we believe in one another. I don't want to say it's a surprise," said Kidd, averaging 7.3 points while hitting half of his 28 3-point shots. "I think with the knowledge and the understanding of the game and the principles that (coach Mike Woodson) has put out for us, I think guys have picked it up quickly and it's kind of fun."
The Knicks certainly looked like they were having fun Tuesday, cruising to a 102-80 victory over New Orleans to open this three-game road trip, which ends Friday at Houston.
First, they'll try to win at Dallas for just the second time in 13 visits.
Carmelo Anthony's season-high 31 points, seven rebounds and two blocks were instrumental in New York's win against the Mavs earlier this month.
The superstar forward had 29 points on 12 of 22 from the floor Tuesday. Besides a team-leading 24.2 points per game, Anthony is also being lauded for his defensive play and hustle.
The Knicks are allowing a league-low 88.9 points per game.
"We are playing the best basketball (in the league), and it's because of him," Chandler said. "He is playing all over the floor on both ends. He should be at the top of the race as far as MVP goes right now."
The Mavericks haven't had the services of their superstar all season, with Dirk Nowitzki still sidelined following right knee surgery.
Dallas has lost five of seven - a stretch that started at New York - and is coming off Monday's 105-101 overtime defeat to visiting Golden State.
"It's very disappointing," guard O.J. Mayo said. "It's a game we should have had."
Mayo, the team leader with 21.8 points per game, accounted for all 11 of the Mavericks' points in overtime and finished with 27.
Chris Kaman is looking to build on one of his best performances of the season after tallying 18 points and 17 rebounds Monday. He had 18 total boards over the two previous games, and mustered only seven with 14 points at New York.
Updated November 21, 2012