Shawn Marion pulled down a power forward-like 14 rebounds Tuesday night. Down the final stretch, more of those rebounds might actually come from the power forward spot.
Marion, averaging 11.0 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds at small forward, had relinquished his power forward duties from last season because Lamar Odom was here to suck up minutes. It turned out he just sapped energy, and now he's gone.
With Brandan Wright, who coach Rick Carlisle prefers at center, Yi Jianlian and Brian Cardinal as the other options to back up Dirk Nowitzki, Marion is expected to slide over to the 4 more as he did so smoothly last season.
"I told him just now after (Tuesday's) game, we gave him a light night minutes-wise to get ready for this trip and we all know he’s a big difference-maker for us," Carlisle said. "And he doesn’t do it necessarily in a conventional way and that’s one of the things that’s made him a special player for us."
A 6-foot-7, Marion is not a typical power forward, but then again there was nothing typical about a small forward chasing around point guards like Chris Paul. A Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Marion said he doesn't care what position he's asked to play. In the Matrix's world, a position is only a number.
"It’s cool to get some minutes there," Marion said. "I really haven’t been there much this season because how deep we’ve been at the position. I’m a basketball player, so you can put me anywhere out there and I’ll find a way to make it happen."
Marion was obviously one of the more valuable contributors during the championship run because of the defense he played against a variety of offensive weapons, including Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Without Odom, Marion might see his minutes spike as the Mavs begin a four-game road trip over five nights. They face Golden State on Thursday and Portland on Friday before Marion will meet Kobe and the Lakers for a nationally televised game on ABC.
Marion missed the last meeting in Dallas, a 16-point L.A. win in which Kobe went for 30. Bryant had averaged 14.5 points in the first two games against Marion.
He's averaged the third most minutes on the team at 30.7, one of the few from last season's title team whose playing time has gone up from a year ago. Now those minutes might get sliced up a bit more like last season, too.
"Like I said, I’m a basketball player," Marion said. "You put me in there and I get enough minutes at it, enough to get comfortable and know the situations, I’m good to go."