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J.J. Barea, bench must play tough tonight

DALLAS -- J.J. Barea knows he has his hands full tonight with assist machine Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics in town.

"He’s athletic and he’s always trying to create for others or create for himself," Barea said. "He’s got long arms, he plays good defense, so he’s one of the best."

Rondo is averaging 11.1 points and an eye-popping 14.7 assists per game to easily lead the league.

Barea's role as backup point guard is especially important during the early portion of the schedule. Coach Rick Carlisle desperately wants to reduce Jason Kidd's minutes (even a couple minutes lower than the 34.0 he's averaging now), but the only way to do that is to get quality point-guard play off the bench.

The foot injury to Roddy Beaubois certainly doesn't help. Not only was Beaubois expected to take some minutes at the point, but his absence has thrust Jason Terry into the starting lineup at shooting guard, taking away major scoring pop from a bench that's off to a sluggish start. Barea is averaging 17.8 minutes and producing 6.2 points, 1.6 assists and 2.0 turnovers.

Barea and the second unit got lit up to start the second quarter Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. The Mavs were down by two points at the end of the first quarter and trailed by 10 when Carlisle got the starters back in around the midway point of the period.

"Coming off the bench you want to provide energy, so you want to be a plus [rating] every time, either scoring the ball or something. You’ve got to help the team out," Barea said. "They [the Nuggets] started making their outside shots and then we couldn’t run on them so we had to play a halfcourt game and the halfcourt game wasn't working and that’s when we got in trouble."

Rondo, averaging 40.6 minutes a game, will first be the responsibility of Terry and somewhat Kidd. Then Rondo will be Barea's responsibility, and Rondo will put him to the ultimate test at both ends of the floor.

"You’ve got to make him work on defense because he usually stands around and just helps everybody," Barea said. "So you’ve got to get him a little bit tired."