Young guards steal the show

DALLAS -- Jason Kidd has been preaching it not only to the media, but to the young players themselves.

"J-Kidd told us that we're going to need our young players, me, Roddy, Ian [Mahinmi], they're going to need us," Jones said. "That vibe right there just let us know that we have to be ready and any game might be the game where we play 20 minutes or 30 minutes, or we might play no minutes or five minutes. So, you've just got to stay ready and keep your mind right and continue to get better as it goes on."

Kidd, who turns 39 in March, knows what's ahead: a grueling 66-game schedule over 123 days with 20 back-to-backs and one back-to-back-to-back. Depth is going to be crucial to success like never before.

Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois are behind two veterans at both guard positions. But, one injury or a needed night off will push them into important minutes. In Sunday night's 106-92 preseason loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, both showed vast improvement from last season, when Jones played some in the D-League and Beaubois battled his troublesome left foot.

On a night when Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki didn't play, both youngsters scored 17 points Sunday with Jones adding seven assists and Beaubois hitting three 3-pointers. They often played together with each attacking the rim and forming quite a nifty pairing while sparking a rally that chopped OKC's 90-67 lead to five midway through the fourth quarter.

"Roddy likes to shoot it and I like to pass it," Jones said, "so it works out good."

Beaubois continues t0 make progress after a second offseason rehabbing his left foot that he initially fractured two summers ago and then re-injured on the final game of last season. His role ever since has been in question.

"Every day I feel better, but I have to keep pushing myself," Beaubois said. "This was my first game since a long time ago. On the foot, I'm healthy, but I need to get the foot and the leg stronger."