There is no downplaying this Dallas Maverickswin, which snaps an 0-for-4 streak at the AAC, even though it comes against an overmatched Lakers club playing without an injured Kobe Bryant. But right alongside Dirk Nowitzki (27 points on 12-of-20 shooting) and a slump-busting Monta Ellis (10 straight points in the fourth on the way to a 16-points, nine-assists and five-steals effort), Marion’s Swiss-Army-Knife versatility is so often Dallas’ difference-maker.
And if he is to miss two weeks with a shoulder contusion – that’s the early diagnosis as X-rays taken at the AAC were negative – Dallas will be without a unique weapon in Marion who recently posted a healthy four-game run featuring 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 62.5-percent three-point shooting, 54.2-percent field-goal shooting, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.5 turnovers per game.
““He’s banged up,’’ said coach Rick Carlisle of Marion, who last week joined an elite club that includes only Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett who have at least 17,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 1,500 steals and 1,000 blocks. “He’s not going to travel with us tonight (to San Antonio). We’ll hope that he feels better tomorrow or the next day. We’ll see.”
Marion helps Dallas without needing plays called for him and helps Dallas by being the do-everything defender. The Mavs didn’t play much defense here, but scored 60-plus points for the seventh time this season; they are 6-1 in those games.
Dallas also upped its record to 20-15 and became just the 10th NBA team to win at least 20 games this season.
As Dirk said in the above Video Visit, "We meeded to stop the bleeding somehow.''
The Mavs benefited from the tourniquet provided by Vince Carter’s 19 points off the bench. DeJuan Blair started at center (with Sleepy Sam playing behind him) and had 15 points and nine rebounds. Point guard Jose Calderon added 12 points and eight assists.
And assists were a key here; Dallas totaled an astounding 32 of them.
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“I think the last two games we got outside ourselves and we weren’t moving the ball enough,’’ Ellis said. “So throughout yesterday’s practice and shoot around today coach expressed us to continue to move the ball and cut and move. And we did that and got open shots and luckily tonight they went down.”
There is little time to celebrate for the Mavs as they immediately jet to San Antonio for a 6 p.m. Wednesday tip at San Antonio against the Southwest Division-leading Spurs at 6 p.m. They will do so without their do-everything Marion, who will not make the San Antonio trip but could join the team for Friday’s game at New Orleans.
“The important thing is to find a way – and we did,’’ Carlisle said. “Now we’ve got to get on the plane and play a 6 p.m. game tomorrow.”