“This is just about helping my teammates,” Marion said.
Well, the last possession of the Dallas Mavericks' 93-87 win over the Phoenix Suns might be considered an exception. Marion jacked up a wild, off-the-dribble runner in what seemed like a desperate attempt to hit the 30-point milestone for the first time as a Maverick.
That shot didn’t fall, so Marion settled for a 29-point performance that served as another strong reminder that he’s still capable of filling it up like he did as a four-time All-Star in Phoenix when he’s a focal point of the offense.
“He’s playing the best out of anybody on this team right now,” point guard Jason Kidd said. “He’s been carrying us.”
That was apparent in last week’s road win over Utah. The Mavs needed someone else to step up with Nowitzki and Jason Terry struggling. Marion responded with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
He topped that against his former team Monday night at the American Airlines Center. The Matrix pretty much put the Mavs on his back in the third quarter, when he poured in 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting. That included a flurry of three 3-pointers … which matched his total from his entire first season in Dallas.
Marion finished the night 11-of-21 from the floor and 4-of-6 behind the arc.
“He has the green light to shoot 3s,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The first year, we discouraged it and it was the wrong thing to do. A guy that has that kind of career and everything, you’ve got to let him play his game.”
Marion has adjusted his game to fit with the Mavericks. He’s readily accepted being a role player, even coming off the bench before Caron Butler suffered a season-ending knee injury last January.
The 20-point performance that used to be routine for Marion doesn't come very often these days, with the last week being an exception. He’s accepted the challenge of becoming the Mavs’ defensive stopper, a job he performed well against superstars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James during Dallas’ championship run.
Marion is mostly a complementary offensive player now, a guy who gets the majority of his points as a cutter in halfcourt sets or fast-break finisher. But he’ll proudly tell you that he can still be a go-to guy when need be, something he’s proven over the last five days.
“The more touches, the more you get in a rhythm, the better off you’ll be,” Kidd said. “Especially when you’re a scorer, and that’s what he is.”
Matrix is whatever the Mavs need him to be. At the moment, that’s a scorer.