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Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Is Marion an option on Russell Westbrook?

By Jeff Caplan

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has a decision to make as to how to defend Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who has averaged 28.5 points on 52.3 percent shooting in the first two games.

None of the Mavs' guards, including Delonte West, is having much luck and the zone isn't stopping him either.

"He’s playing great, he’s playing great," Carlisle said. "And you know we started off the game double-teaming him, he split us and broke us down and got to the rim and took us out of that, so it’s been tough. He’s hitting shots and we’ve done a decent job of keeping him out of the paint, but he’s stroking it. So we’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and cook something else up."

Could the next recipe include defensive player of the year candidate Shawn Marion moving over to defend Westbrook and leave the cold-shooting Kevin Durant to someone else? The 6-foot-7 Marion would have the height advantage on the 6-3 Westbrook and might have better luck defending the mid-range jumper that Westbrook is so quick to pull up and launch.

"Look, there are options," Carlisle said. "There are different things. We’re in and out of zone, sometimes you’ve got different guys guarding different guys, that’s how zone is, it’s kind of a scramble. Look, we’ll look at it. We come away from these two games disappointed but not dismayed and you tip your hat to the fact that they have made some big-time plays."

It probably doesn't make much sense to take Marion off Durant for one simple reason: Who do you put on a 6-foot-11 freak of nature?

But with two days to think of something before Thursday's critical Game 3, the Mavs are desperate for answers. Marion said he'd be ready if that's the direction Carlisle wants to go.

"I’m going to make him take a tough shot the best way I can," Marion said. "I feel like I can use my lift a little bit when he’s shooting it I can get in the way of his shot. Everybody else he’s jumping so high on his shot, it’s like he’s by himself up there."