W2W4: Steve Nash coming on as season grinds on

January, 23, 2012
1/23/12
11:00
AM CT
The last time Steve Nash was in town three weeks ago, he wrapped up his morning shootaround with some free throws and headed to the small group of media members waiting for him.

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As he wiped the matted strings of hair from his sweaty brow, Nash was asked what, with his 38th birthday approaching on Feb. 7, motivates him to keep going.

"Money," Nash said, not missing a beat.

His straight face quickly lit up with a smile, and he talked about his love for the game and that he'll keep going until he can't. He didn't say he wanted to play until age 40 as Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd, who turns 39 two months from today, has said. But clearly he has no designs on going away quietly.

Nash's scoring has picked up considerably since the Phoenix Suns' last trip through town on Jan. 4, which has coincided with his shooting percentage rising to 55.0 percent. Nash is making a solid case for an eighth All-Star selection, averaging 14.8 points and a league-leading 10.0 assists.

Nash won't get any of those fun matchups when defensive switches sometimes finds the guard going up against his 7-foot buddy Dirk Nowitzki, who will sit out his second of four games to help get his right knee back.

The Suns don't score it like they used to, but they'll look to run the Mavs, who's depth is depleted by two key rotation players (also Vince Carter).

Records: Suns (6-9); Mavs (10-7)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
TV: FSSW
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Lamar Odom will likely again start for Nowitzki at power forward and it should lead to more minutes than he's been seeing as a reserve. Odom played 26 minutes at New Orleans on Saturday, tying for the second-most minutes of the season. He had his best game with a season-high 16 points. If Odom can use Nowitzki's injury to improve his struggling game and gain some confidence moving forward then it can only be a good thing for him and the team. This a big one for the Mavs, who would like to take advantage of a four-game homestand and doing that starts with a win tonight over a sub-.500 team.

Key matchup: Marcin Gortat vs. Brendan Haywood/Ian Mahinmi
Gortat, who once-upon-a-time thought he would be a Maverick has certainly emerged as an agile and skilled big man who is flourishing playing with Nash. He is averaging 14.7 points, nearly 10 more a game than when he played behind Dwight Howard at Orlando, and 10.0 rebounds. Gortat put up 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting, and 10 boards in the Jan. 4 meeting against the Mavs. He enters this one with eight double-doubles and seven in a row.

Injuries: Suns - None. Mavs - F Dirk Nowitzki (sore right knee) is out; G Vince Carter (sprained left foot ) is out.

Up next: Minnesota Timberwolves at Mavs, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.9 4.5 1.7 34.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 9.3
StealsR. Rondo 2.0
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4