Marion played hurt while Howard rehabbed

DALLAS -- With Josh Howard ready to return, this is an appropriate time to appreciate Shawn Marion's willingness to play through pain.

Howard missed the last 13 games due to soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle. In a case of terrible timing, Marion sprained his left ankle three games later.

Marion missed three games and has since played through significant pain. Marion's willingness to tough it out earned him admiration from coach Rick Carlisle, who hugged Marion in the locker room after his return in a win over the Houston Rockets.

Due to the absences of Howard and Quinton Ross (back), Marion has had to play more than 30 minutes in each of the last seven games.

"It’s been enormous for us," Carlisle said this morning, before news broke that Howard would play tonight against the Suns. "It started in Houston that night we had to bounce back from the tough home loss. He was able to play that night and gave us a big lift and has been in there ever since.

"He’s not completely healthy. He still has pain and he’s working through it, but he’s trying to help us win. He wants to win and that’s why he wants to be here."