3-pointer: Shawn Marion fired up by Kobe's challenge
Marion shot back a bit after being the primary Kobe defender during the All-Star’s 15-point, 4-of-15-shooting, seven-turnover outing Wednesday night.
“He don’t wanna see me one-on-one,” Marion said after the Mavs’ tough loss to the Lakers. “He knows that … When I lace these [expletives] up, I’m gonna compete. He knows that [expletive].”
Despite Marion’s PG-rated language, he wasn’t angry at Bryant. Marion just wanted the world to know that he was up for the challenge.
If that wasn’t obvious enough during the Mavs’ West semifinals sweep of the Lakers, it’s been reinforced during the teams’ two meetings this season.
The Lakers won both games, but it certainly wasn’t because of Bryant’s offensive brilliance. Kobe scored a combined 29 points in the two games -- matching his normal per-game average -- and has as many turnovers (11) as field goals while shooting 29.7 percent from the floor against Marion and Co.
Kobe acknowledged after Wednesday’s game that Marion deserves some credit for his defensive prowess, but continued to point to the Mavs’ system as being the bigger problem.
“This is one of those teams that’s going to load up on me,” Bryant said. “Shawn does a good job. They do a great job providing help for him … Dallas, they’re not going to let me get off, in terms of scoring. They’re going to try to do whatever they can to have other guys take that responsibility.
“As soon as I get below that free throw line, that double’s coming. I can’t get to my sweet spots.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ pre-All-Star finale:
1. Pushing the old PG: The Mavs have been vigilant about keeping Jason Kidd’s minutes under 30 each game. Except for Wednesday night, when Kidd played 33:35. Dominique Jones, the backup point guard by default, played only 4:30 and sat the entire second half because coach Rick Carlisle felt this was a game that required veterans on the floor. Kidd played only 23 minutes in Monday’s win over the Celtics, and Carlisle, Kidd and athletic trainer Casey Smith discussed a one-night increase in the 18-year veteran’s playing time before Wednesday’s game. “He had rollover minutes and he’s got five days off,” Carlisle said. “This is an exception.”
2. Free throw failure: The Mavs got into the bonus with 7:28 to play but shot only four free throws the remainder of the game. “When you get in the bonus and then don’t get to the line, that kills,” Carlisle said. Making matters worse, they managed to miss all four of those free throws. It wasn’t a surprise that Brendan Haywood bricked a pair, but it’s pretty stunning to see Dirk Nowitzki come up empty during a crunch time trip to the line.
3. Invisible inside: The Mavs finished with 32 points in the paint, but only two of those came during their 19-point fourth quarter. That’s because the Mavs attempted only one shot in the paint during the frame, a Nowitzki tip-in with 29 seconds remaining. “They closed things off better in the second half,” Carlisle said, crediting the Lakers’ defense. “In those situations, you’ve got to knock down shots.”
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