|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2011||[Print without images]|
DALLAS -- An elbow by Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins bloodied Shawn Marion's nose and dazed the Dallas forward. It did not, however, keep the Dallas Mavericks forward off the floor for one second.
Marion returned to the court after the timeout -- when coach Rick Carlisle was called for a technical foul after arguing that Perkins should have been called for a foul -- and immediately helped spark a 16-3 run with a dunk and a fast-break assist to Dirk Nowitzki for an and-1 layup. That spurt to end the first half gave the Mavs the lead for good in their 121-112 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
"I was already sitting on the bench for about 10 or 15 minutes prior to that with two fouls, so I was like, I want to play," said Marion, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out. "This is the time. If it's broke, it's broke. If it's not, it's not. I just had to put some gauze in it, try to contain the bleeding and then go out and play."
Marion still had gauze in his right nostril after the game. Carlisle thought the nose was broken, but X-rays were negative.
It would have been the fourth time Marion has broken his nose during his 12-year NBA career. Marion did not consider the elbow, which happened when Perkins was rolling to the basket after setting a pick, to be a dirty play.
"It was accidental. It happens. It wasn't on purpose, not at all. We were just trying to scramble and get away from each other and he got a good one," Marion said.
"That's part of the game. It's going to be a physical game. It's that time of the year. Gotta get through it."
Carlisle said Marion's decision to continue playing was "maybe the biggest key to the game." Marion was the primary defender on Kevin Durant, who scored 40 points and was especially effective when Marion was not on the floor. Durant made 10-of-18 shots from the floor but was only 4-of-11 when Marion was in the game.
"We need him out there to deal with Durant," Carlisle said. "I mean, he was bleeding. He had things stuck up his nose. It was really a difficult situation, but we desperately needed him out there. He got right back up, got those plugs or whatever he had in his nose and got back out there."
Guard Jason Terry said Marion's effort epitomized the toughness that makes this Dallas team different than the recent editions that had major playoff disappointments.
"When I looked at him on the bench, I didn't think he was going back in," Terry said. "When the timeout was over, he hopped up quick and went back in and was effective. His eyes were rolling back, he had stuff up his nose and was bleeding. I'm like, 'There's no way this kid's going back in the game.' But he said, 'Nah, Coach, don't take me out.' And he played well. That's what it's all about for us."Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.