Marion had game highs of 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and the 6-foot-7 forward also helped frustrate Denver's top scoring threat as the Mavericks stretched their winning streak to five with a 102-84 victory over the Nuggets on Wednesday night.
Dallas once again often used Marion to help defend the opponent's best offensive option. Ty Lawson finished with only three points on 1-of-8 shooting.
"Lawson's penetration is something everybody in the league is trying to solve. ... We had good concentration, kept him from shredding us on the inside," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "Marion's versatility on the defensive end came up huge for us."
Marion led six Mavericks who scored in double figures on a night when the team was already without two guards before Delonte West broke his finger in the second quarter. The defending NBA champions matched their longest winning streak of the season.
"Everybody who put on a uniform contributed," Marion said. "We came out aggressive and attacked them and had them on their heels."
Dallas jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the first 3 minutes and was never really challenged.
Lawson finished with 13 points fewer than his scoring average, and the Nuggets shot a season-low 36 percent (30-of-84) with their worst-scoring half followed by their lowest-scoring quarter. They came in as the league's highest-scoring team at 104 points per game.
The Mavericks' winning streak (coming after a three-day break that followed three losses in a row) includes a victory Monday night over the Los Angeles Clippers in which Carlisle had Marion guarding point guard Chris Paul to start the game.
"Dallas has turned into an incredibly good defensive team," Denver coach George Karl said.
"We struggled on offense, and that affected our defense," Harrington said. "They were just a better team tonight, and we've got to move on."
Kidd had consecutive 3-pointers, one from the top of the key and the other from the right corner, to cap a 16-3 run that pushed the Mavericks ahead 72-49 with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
Denver trailed 51-39 after its lowest-scoring first half of the season. The Nuggets followed that in the third quarter by scoring only 15 points, their fewest in any period this season.
"We were struggling to find points," Karl said.
At the same time, Dallas had its highest-scoring third quarter of the season, piling up 32 points to push ahead 83-54.
Already without guards Jason Terry (strained right quad) and Rodrigue Beaubois (personal reasons), West went down with an ugly injury to his right ring finger. Blood was clearly visible after he fractured and dislocated his finger while playing defense.
"He's going to be out for a while," Carlisle said.
While Terry's injury isn't thought to be serious, Carlisle had already said he would also miss Friday night's game at Philadelphia because of a "personal situation."
In a sign of things to come for the Mavs, four players scored in the opening 9-1 stretch.
Carter had two free throws less than a minute into the game to put Dallas ahead to stay before Kidd converted a steal by Carter into a 3-pointer. Nowitzki and Marion followed with jumpers.
Odom's putback of his own miss made it 11-4.
On the next Dallas possession, Odom became the first Mavericks player to score consecutive points when he hit a 3.
"Everybody's getting better and better as far as their game and their conditioning," Odom said. "We're having fun playing together."
Nuggets F Corey Brewer received his championship ring from the Mavericks before the game. Brewer, a bench player during Dallas' playoff run last season, was acquired from the Mavericks in a trade Dec. 13. He had nine points. Caron Butler, now with the Clippers, got his ring Monday night when Los Angeles was in town. ... Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has stepped in to save an annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Dallas, writing a $40,000 check to ensure the parade, which has been held since 1979, goes on. "I figured I had lost enough brain cells there, everybody else should get that opportunity, too," Cuban joked before the game.
No one thought the Portland Trail Blazers would make it to the playoffs, much less the conference semifinals. And that's perfectly fine for the upstart attitudes of Damian Lillard and Co.
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