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W2W4: Suns present opportunity to improve

1/4/2012

DALLAS -- Once upon a time, the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns were big-time rivals. Not so much anymore. Not unless you're Jason Terry.

"It’s a rivalry for me. You know what that game means for me, personally," Terry said Tuesday afternoon. "I’ve always taken that game personally and there’s nothing different this time. As long as they’re Phoenix and we’re Dallas, it’s going to be something special."

Why does this game continue to have special meaning for Terry.

"When I came here, I was obviously the guy that was chosen to replace Steve Nash, somewhat," Terry said. "There’s just always something that’s a little extra motivation when we play them."

Terry joined the Mavs eight seasons ago when Nash left to sign a lucrative free-agent deal with the Suns. Nash knocked the Mavs out of the playoffs in that 2004-05 season, but it's been Terry and the Mavs that have gone on to play in two NBA Finals and winning the championship last season.

Now, the Mavs are just seeking a little consistency at the expense of the Suns, who are seeking the same thing after coming off a big win against the Golden State Warriors.

Records: Suns (2-3); Mavs (2-4)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center

TV: FSSW

Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Do the Mavs come out strong or in the words of coach Rick Carlisle regarding his team's 17-point loss at Minnesota, lay an egg? Dallas is looking to put together consecutive wins for the first time this season and this would be a good one to get considering the Mavs play at the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. This is a good opponent for Dallas to continue to improve on its defensive stats because this is not the burn-it-up Suns of the past. These Suns rank 22nd in scoring at 91.8 points a game and 23rd in field-goal shooting at 41.5 percent. The Mavs are starting to step things up defensively, no longer ranking dead last in opponent field-goal percentage, but still allowing 47.1 percent shooting over the first six games.

Key matchup: Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd

The old guard is on display and both Hall of Fame-bound point guards can still ramp it up at a high level. Both players are off to slow starts shooting the basketball with Nash averaging 10.8 points on 40.4 percent shooting and Kidd averaging 6.0 points on 35.5 percent shooting. Nash is delivering 8.0 assists per game with Kidd dishing 5.0, but coming off a season-high nine assists in Monday's win over the Thunder. Numbers aside, this is just a fun matchup to watch for however long it lasts.

Injuries: Suns - C Marcin Gortat (slight non-displaced fracture, right thumb) will play. Mavs - none.

Up next: Mavs at San Antonio Spurs, 7:30 p.m., Thursday