Shawn Marion is so damn good.
He is, isn't he? This was the complete Shawn Marion game. Great movement off the ball, running the floor and defending his ass off. James Harden has absolutely destroyed the Mavs in the past. He had 28 points tonight, but Marion was all over him, hounding him at the three point line, forcing him to his right and generally being a bad ass.
Somehow, someway, Dallas pulled out a win. The Mavs expectantly gave up a 13-point second half lead, with Harden drilling a 3-pointer to give Houston a 104-102 lead, but from there, Dallas responded in a way it hasn't all season. O.J. Mayo showed what he can do in crunch-time when he isn't throwing the ball off defenders backs, Dirk was Dirk and Marion was Marion.
A solid win that probably helps the Lakers more than anything, but hey, it was a joy to watch Marion tonight. Onto the bullets.
- There can't be enough said of Marion's fantastic night (22 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 10-of-16 shooting). He started fast, quickly getting out on the break, running pick and rolls and helping Dallas grab a 34-25 first quarter lead. Throughout the night, Houston continually made runs to get it close and there was Marion, flipping in his runner in the paint, getting his hand on a loose ball or running the baseline to find himself open underneath the basket. Marion's defensive contributions were most evident late, when Dallas was up 110-108 with seconds left and him hounding Harden all the way to the 3-point line. He forced Harden to drive with his off-hand and helped force him into an awkward shot. Shawn Marion is the shit.
- O.J. Mayo (13 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 0 turnovers, 5-of-10 shooting) defied all basketball reason by dishing out 12 assists with zero turnovers. ZERO. Mayo even handled the ball a good amount late in the game and didn't add to his crunch-time highlight reel. Rick Carlisle said Mayo isn't a playmaker, he's a scorer. He's right, Mayo has never posted great passing numbers without equally bad turnover numbers. But tonight, he looked to defy Carlisle's words by looking for his teammates constantly. The difference tonight was nothing seemed forced. Mayo was as patient in pick and rolls as he's ever been as a Maverick tonight, waiting a few seconds to scan the defense, take a few more dribbles into the paint and deliver a good pass. Dirk Nowitzki (22 points, 9-of-16 shooting) and Marion were the primary beneficiaries of Mayo's basketball good-will. Even better, when Harden gave Houston that late 104-102 lead, Mayo instantly came back and scored five straight to give Dallas a lead it would never relinquish. It's that kind of killer instinct we've all wanted from Mayo for so long.
- On that last defensive stop for the Mavs on Harden: Brandan Wright played about the best help defense of his entire career on that play, coming to Harden at the right time and contesting his shot without fouling, which is saying something considering it's Harden and he's one of the best at drawing contact.
- Speaking of Wright, he and Mike James surprisingly started the game tonight. It's another blow to Darren Collison's confidence and another crystal-clear message of how Dallas views his future with the team. To his credit, James wasn't the worst thing ever. Wright's inclusion was interesting and welcome -- almost every Maverick lineup with Chris Kaman is an overwhelming net-negative and Brand appears more comfortable off the bench. The Bernard James lineups have been getting killed according to NBA.com so it was properly Wright's turn. He still can't rebound worth a damn (just 2 rebounds in 27 minutes) but he's such a gifted and skilled finisher that he always seems to produce when he gets playing time (12 points, 6-of-7 shooting). Wright is such a good off-ball cutter that he makes a perfect offensive pair with Dirk. Dirk hit Wright multiple times in the paint, allowing Wright to convert an easy lay-in or take one dribble and get a better shot. He might never develop into the defensive presence his athleticism should let him be, but right now, he's offense is such a plus it might not matter too much.
- Ho-hum, another typical 16-point, 7-rebound Vince Carter night.
- Thomas Robinson is going to be a monster in Houston. Freed from the basketball abyss in Sacramento, Robinson is showing why he was taken in the fifth in the 2012 draft. He was a menace tonight for the Mavs, blowing up pick and rolls on defense, finishing at the rim and blocking shots. The Rockets desperately need another big that can play defense along Asik to give the Rockets a chance on that end and Robinson may be it. What a great fit. And his mid-range jumper is coming along.