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Friday, December 17, 2010
Clash of point guards won't last forever

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- When Steve Nash and Jason Kidd go head-to-head tonight at American Airlines Center, take it in and enjoy watching two of the greatest true point guards ever to play the game.

PODCAST
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle jumps on with GAC to talk about the big matchup with the Suns, how Brendan Haywood is handling decreased playing time, and how the team can avoid coughing up big leads.

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Their matchups could be limited to just three more after tonight. Both have one more season remaining on their respective contracts, but a potential lockout threatens to wipe out the entirety of the 2011-12 season. Nash, in his 15th season, will turn 37 in February. Kidd, in his 17th season, turns 38 in March.

John Stockton started all 82 games at age 41 in his final season, and there's no doubt iron men such as Kidd and Nash could keep going, but there are no guarantees, especially if they're forced to sit out an entire season. If a lockout were to shut down the NBA a la the NHL in 2004-05, Kidd would turn 40 and Nash would turn 39 in their returns, assuming the NBA resumes play in 2012-13.

As for this season, Nash is adjusting to life without Amare Stoudemire filling the paint for the Phoenix Suns. He's doing so by averaging a double-double and pumping up his scoring, averaging 18.1 points on 51.2 percent shooting and 10.6 assists.

"Steve’s a two-time MVP. He is still getting the job done," Kidd said. "He has picked up his scoring due to maybe some guys leaving, but he knows how to run the offense and he knows how to win."

Kidd's stats aren't nearly as gaudy (7.9 points and 8.8 assists) and he's struggled with his shooting (36.6 percent overall), but on a team with early MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki and more scoring threats than he's had in his previous two full seasons since re-joining the Dallas Mavericks, Kidd's priorities are to orchestrate the offense and keep defenses honest with his 3-point shot.

As championships have eluded both perennial All-Stars, Kidd is suddenly better positioned after the Suns made a run to the Western Conference finals a year ago. Stoudemire bolted to the New York Knicks  as a free agent and the Mavs, aided by the offseason acquisition of Tyson Chandler, are 20-5 and have already ripped off 12 in a row -- equaling the Suns' win total to go along with 12 losses.

Title pursuits aside, one can only hope this first of four matchups this season is not the beginning of the end. Either way, the level of play from both players will be predictable.

"We’re both competitors. He wants to win, I want to win," Kidd said. "But, I think the big thing is we’ve been in the league long enough that at the end of the day we're going to do whatever it takes for our team to win."