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The Sports Xchange, Published December 30 2013

Dallas holds off Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS – In this case, quite literally, Shawn Marion had the last laugh.

The forward just finished off his best game in a Dallas uniform – 32 points, six rebounds, three assists – in the Mavericks’ 100-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Afterward, in the visitors’ locker room, he was asked about the final play.

“It was not a foul,” he said with a chuckle, then a laugh.

In a game with seismic momentum changes that turned a possible Dallas blowout into a tense battle, Marion was credited with blocking Kevin Love’s 21-foot jumper as time expired. Of course, from the perspective of the 16,111 fans and Wolves coach Rick Adelman, the block was actually a foul that should have sent Love to the line for two free throws and a chance to push the game into overtime.

“He got fouled,” an exasperated Adelman said. “I wonder what that would have been if (Dirk) Nowitzki, LeBron James, all the top players in the league ...”

Adelman stopped himself, then finished: “A guy reaches on a last-second shot like that, instead of challenging it. Maybe they don’t understand that Kevin is one of the top five players in this league.”

Regardless, the night ended in frustration for the Timberwolves.

Dallas, which also got 16 points from Nowitzki and 14 off the bench from forward Brandan Wright, played marvelously in the first half while building 19-point lead.

The advantage grew to 21 early in the third quarter before the Wolves came roaring back. In a 38-19 third quarter, Minnesota forward Corey Brewer scored 14 of his 16 points and Love had 12 as the Wolves raced back to tie the game at 81 on Brewer’s fast-break dunk as time expired.

Love, who had 11 rebounds to go with his 36 points – his 11th game with 25 points or more – hit a 3-pointer to give the Wolves a one-point lead with 10 minutes, 18 seconds left. Minnesota guard J.J. Barea’s runner push the lead to three with 8:45 left.

The Wolves still led by one when Marion’s wide-open 3-pointer from the left side gave the Mavs a 92-90 lead. After a Love miss, Marion hit another 3-pointer. Before Adelman could reinsert Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio into the game, Nowitzki’s jumper made it 97-90 with three minutes left.

“He was the key to the game,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Marion, whose point total was a season high. “He played both ends of the floor. We didn’t call one play for him, and he just produced.”

Dallas 29 33 19 19 — 100:

Minnesota 23 20 38 17 — 98:

DALLAS (100)

Ellis 3-14 3-3 9, Calderon 3-7 0-0 8, Nowitzki 7-17 2-3 16, Marion 14-19 0-0 32, Dalembert 3-3 3-4 9, Carter 2-9 2-2 6, B.Wright 6-8 2-2 14, Crowder 0-4 0-0 0, Blair 3-3 0-0 6, Larkin 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 41-86 12-14 100.

MINNESOTA (98)

Pekovic 6-13 6-6 18, Love 14-24 6-8 36, Kv.Martin 6-15 6-7 19, C.Brewer 7-12 0-0 16, Rubio 1-3 2-2 4, Barea 2-4 0-0 5, D.Cunningham 0-2 0-0 0, Mbah a Moute 0-1 0-0 0, Shved 0-3 0-0 0, Hummel 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 36-79 20-23 98.

3-Point Goals: Dallas 6-24 (Marion 4-6, Calderon 2-4, Larkin 0-1, Crowder 0-2, Ellis 0-3, Carter 0-4, Nowitzki 0-4), Minnesota 6-23 (C.Brewer 2-5, Love 2-7, Barea 1-3, Kv.Martin 1-3, Mbah a Moute 0-1, Rubio 0-1, Shved 0-1, Hummel 0-2). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Dallas 42 (Dalembert 7), Minnesota 51 (Love 11). Assists: Dallas 33 (Ellis 10), Minnesota 22 (Rubio 13). Total Fouls: Dallas 20 (Dalembert 4), Minnesota 15 (C.Brewer 4). A—16,111.