Rapid Reaction: Mavs 100, Timberwolves 98

With Shawn Marion playing a starring role, the Dallas Mavericks managed to pull out a 100-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves despite blowing a 21-point lead.

How it happened: Marion scored 32 points, his most in a Mavericks uniform, on 14-of-19 shooting. That included a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the first of which gave the Mavs the lead for good with 4:56 remaining.

Marion, whose last 30-plus-point game occurred on April 15, 2009, in his final game for the Toronto Raptors, hit 10 of his first 12 shots from the floor to help the Mavs build a 21-point lead early in the third quarter.

The Timberwolves roared back with a 15-2 run and outscored Dallas by a 38-19 margin in the third quarter, when Minnesota forwards Corey Brewer and Kevin Love combined for 26 points. The Timberwolves tied the score late in the third quarter and took the lead early in the fourth.

The Mavs buckled down on defense again in the fourth quarter, holding the Timberwolves to only 17 points. Love, who finished with game highs of 36 points and 11 rebounds, had seven points in the final frame but was stripped by Marion while attempting a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. The rest of the Timberwolves made only three of 13 shots from the floor in the fourth quarter.

Marion was one of only three Mavs to score in double figures, joined by Dirk Nowitzki (16 points) and Brandan Wright (14 points).

What it means: Dallas, which is the West’s No. 8 team, improved to 18-13 overall. The Mavs created a little more distance between them and the ninth-place Timberwolves (15-16) by beating Minnesota for the first time in three tries this season. After winning only four of their first 13 road games, the Mavs have won three in a row away from the American Airlines Center. They’ll attempt to complete the sweep of this three-game road trip Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards.

Play of the day: The Dirk dunk is kind of like the Mavs’ version of a four-leaf clover. It's so rare that it’s remarkable any time you come across it. This particular play happened on a fast break in the final minute of the first half. Monta Ellis was streaking down the right side of the floor when he spotted Nowitzki as the trailer, shoveled a pass to him and watched the big German soar for a one-hand tomahawk slam over Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio. OK, "soar" is a stretch, but Nowitzki appeared to jump at least a foot high.

Stat of the night: Marion matched his previous season high by halftime with 21 points. He was 10-of-12 from the floor in the first half, including a running hook at the buzzer to give the Mavs a 19-point lead.