Shawn Marion was getting to the rim at will, knocking down 3-pointers and playing tough defense.
Even if the Minnesota Timberwolves think his defense was a little too tough on the last shot of the game, there was no disputing that "The Matrix" was back for Dallas on Monday night.
Marion scored 32 points, hit two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and swatted away Kevin Love’s 21-foot jumper at the buzzer to help the Mavericks outlast the Timberwolves in a 100-98 victory.
The Mavs led by 19 late in the first half and seven with 3 minutes to play, but the Wolves had the ball down two in the closing seconds. Love got the ball in the corner and rose up for a 3-pointer, but Marion swooped in and swatted it away as Love looked for a foul. None was called.
"Heh, heh. It was not a foul," Marion said.
The Timberwolves disagreed.
"He got fouled," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "I wonder what that would have been if (Dirk) Nowitzki, LeBron James, all the top players in the league — a guy reaches on a last-second shot like that, instead of challenging it. Maybe they don’t understand that Kevin is one of the top five players in this league. You make that call. But they didn’t."
Love, who had 36 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, stood watching the scoreboard in disbelief, and the Mavericks walked off the court winners against the Wolves for the first time in three tries this season.
"I’m the type of person that if you see a foul, an obvious foul, you call it," Love said. "And I thought that was pretty, pretty obvious. … You look at the replay and it was obvious he got arm."
Nowitzki had 16 points for the Mavericks, who led by 19 late in the first half before the Wolves came back. But this win was all Marion. He topped 30 points in a game for the first time since the 2008-09 season, and made 14 of 19 shots to go with six rebounds and three assists.
"I’m all about winning games, man," Marion said. "Whatever it takes."
After the Timberwolves were down 19 at halftime, Love shot 6 of 8 in the third quarter and the Wolves outscored Dallas 38-21 to tie the game heading into the fourth.
Adelman, however, might have stuck with a struggling J.J. Barea too long in the final period. Rather than going back to Ricky Rubio during a timeout with just more than 5:30 to play, Adelman kept Barea, who had five turnovers in 17 minutes, on the floor.
That’s when Marion hit two of his four 3s for a 97-90 lead with 3:04 to play.
"Shawn was the key to the game, no question about it," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "If we’re giving out game balls, it’d be two game balls in a row for him. Activity was great. Played both ends of the floor. Didn’t run one play for him. He just produced."
Nowitzki finished the run with a baseline jumper, the original "Stretch 4" finding a way to best the newest version in Love.
The Wolves had beaten the Mavericks soundly in the first two meetings of the season, so Dallas came in with some extra motivation. And the Wolves’ woeful defense did little to deter the Mavericks.
Dallas shot 60 percent in the first half and scored 34 of its 62 points in the paint, with Love, Nikola Pekovic and the rest of the Wolves defense just letting the Mavericks parade to the rim.
Marion scored 21 points and hit 10 of his 12 shots — most from within 5 feet — in the first half. Nowitzki threw down a rare dunk to get his teammates off the bench and give the Mavs a 60-41 lead late in the second quarter.
The loss followed a pattern for the Wolves, who were trying to climb over .500 for the fifth time in December. They were 0-4 in their previous four tries, having shot 39 percent while allowing their opponents to shoot 52 percent.
Pekovic had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Rubio had four points, 13 assists, nine rebounds and three steals for Minnesota.
NOTES:Brandan Wright had 14 points off the bench for Dallas. … Injured Wolves Fs Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow) played 3-on-3 at the morning shootaround. There is still no timetable for their return. … Rubio picked up his 1,000th career assist in the first quarter.