DALLAS – Mavericks owner Mark Cuban considers it a no-brainer to make Shawn Marion a member of the All-Defense team for the first time in his 13-year career.
“Oh, man, I agree,” Lakers star Kobe Bryant said, cracking a grin that dripped with sarcasm. “I think tonight they should not double me at all or zone me. Just play one-on-one because he’s such a great defender that he doesn’t need any help.”
All kidding aside, Bryant has a ton of respect for a Dallas defense that played a major role in the Mavs’ West semifinals sweep of the Lakers last season.
Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson are earning paychecks elsewhere, but Dallas remains an outstanding defensive team. In fact, the Mavs have actually statistically improved since last season. They rank fourth in scoring defense (90.7 points per game) and first in field goal percentage allowed (.415) after finishing 10th and eighth respectively in those categories last season.
“They do a great job with their system and covering for each other,” Bryant said. “It’s really about their assignments and how well you execute those and your defensive strategy. Obviously, Tyson is one of the best big defensive players in the league by far, so you’re going to miss his defensive talent, but still you can plug someone into those positions and they’ll do a great job.”
Marion has done a great job guarding a variety of positions in the Mavs’ system all season.
But Kobe, in his not-too-subtle manner, made it clear that the Matrix will need a lot of help to contain him.