Heck, a week ago, it seemed like he might not score 32 points the rest of the season. That’s an exaggeration, but this sort of offensive explosion certainly didn’t seem to be around the corner after Marion put up only four points in consecutive games.
In fact, it was fair to wonder whether the Dallas Mavericks were asking too much of the 35-year-old Marion after Thursday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He was 1-of-9 from the floor in the game and looked gassed after chasing around Tony Parker and banging with Tim Duncan.
"It ain’t easy," Marion said that night, "but it’s got to be done to give us a chance."
Marion did more than give the Mavs a chance Monday night in Minnesota. Marion carried them to a 100-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves with arguably his best performance in a Mavs uniform on the heels of his 14-point, 13-rebound double-double in a victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Marion's 32 points represent his best scoring game since joining the Mavericks.
The 32-point explosion was definitely Marion’s highest-scoring outing since he arrived in Dallas in the summer of 2009, making up for off nights by Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Vince Carter. The man known as "Matrix," a four-time All-Star in Phoenix who has accepted typically being the fourth offensive option in the Mavs' starting lineup, was 14-of-19 from the floor and 4-of-6 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing 6 rebounds, totaling 3 assists and recording a block and steal.
"Shawn was the key to the game. No question about it," coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. "Activity was great. Played both ends of the floor. Didn’t run one play for him and he just produced. We need him to keep doing what he’s doing."
Marion’s biggest shot was a 3-pointer from the left wing that gave the Mavs the lead for good with 4:56 remaining. He followed that up with a corner 3 on the next possession.
But Marion’s most memorable play from his 32-point performance came on the defensive end. Of course. After all, his defensive grunt work is the primary reason his No. 0 should one day hang from the American Airlines Center rafters near the 2011 championship banner.
Marion spent most of this night trying to contain All-Star power forward Kevin Love, which makes Marion’s offensive energy and effectiveness even more amazing. Love lit up the Mavs for 36 points on 14-of-23 shooting, but Marion stripped the ball when the Timberwolves’ franchise player tried to launch a potential game winner at the buzzer.
The Timberwolves and the Target Center crowd wanted a whistle, but the refs ruled that Marion got ball and a bit of Love’s hand, which is legal. Marion made sure his most explosive offensive outing as a Mav meant something by getting the critical defensive stop.
"It was only fitting that he made that play," Carlisle said.
Marion did pretty much everything else too for the Mavs on Monday night.