EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan: Compare and contrast.
Both are 37 years old. Both are 6-11. Both are "the best at what they do," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "They kind of changed the power forward position. You're looking at two of the best, who've done it for 20 years."
They could be doing it, head-to-head, for a final time when Duncan's San Antonio Spurs play Garnett's Nets Thursday night in Brooklyn. So consider:
Garnett, in his 19th NBA season, has a .497 field-goal percentage, 14,125 rebounds, 2,001 blocks, 25,554 career points, per-game averages of 10.4, 1.5 and 18.7.
Duncan's numbers, halfway through his 17th season, are .506, 13,680, 2,746, 24,495 and 11.2, 2.2, 20.0.
Garnett is known as "The Big Ticket," Duncan's moniker is "The Big Fundamental." Both giants in the industry.
"Those two guys, it's hard to put anybody above those two, as far as anybody I've played against," said Deron Williams, a nine-year pro.
"Two very smart players," Andray Blatche said. "They know the game. Actually, they pretty much know what you're going to do before you do it."
Two birds of a feather, then? Two peas in a pod? Duplicate dispositions?
"No way," Joe Johnson said. "I've never been around Tim Duncan, other than All-Star Games" -- Duncan has played in 14, Garnett in 15. "But on the outside looking in, him and K.G.'s personality, I would say, it's like night and day."
Johnson confirmed what the entire league has known forever, that Garnett is among the most loquacious -- OK, trash-talking -- players in the league, while Duncan is all action, so efficiently unchanging he also has been called "Groundhog Day."
"I think both are great leaders," Johnson said. "K.G. is just more -- I don't know, man -- he's always engaged, and his passion for the game . . . Not to say Duncan doesn't have passion, but K.G. shows it."
Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko noted Duncan's reputation as "a great role model for everybody, playing-wise and off the court." While Williams made the distinction between knowing Garnett the opponent as opposed to being his teammate.
"When you're playing against him," Williams said, "he's just so competitive, so intense, that he comes off as being . . . I don't know what you call it. But once you get around him, you're on the team, you see how passionate he is, how intense he is, why he's that way. He's one of those players you hate to play against and love to play with."
Garnett, meanwhile, declined to speak to reporters yesterday.
Notes & quotes: Johnson, Kirilenko and Blatche all practiced Wednesday and are expected to play Thursday night. Johnson (knee tendinitis) had missed one game, Kirilenko (sore calf) three games and Blatche (bruised hip), two.