Matrix finally feels like part of flow

DALLAS – Shawn Marion readily accepts the challenge of defending the opponent’s premier scorer. He just wants the fight to be as fair as possible.

“I hate sometimes when somebody just gets to go at me,” Marion said after more than doubling Denver star Carmelo Anthony’s point total. “I like to go back at them and defend myself.”

In other words, Marion wants to make his man work on the defensive end of the floor. It’s taken most of the season, but he seems to have settled into a rhythm as the Mavs’ third or fourth offensive option.

The Matrix, who put up 20 ppg during his glory days in Phoenix, understood when he agreed to come to Dallas that there wouldn’t be many plays designed with him in mind. That’s fine with him, but he wants to be involved in the offense.

There have been times this season where he’s felt like the Little League kid stuck out in left field. He always handled the matter in a professional matter, but he certainly wasn’t happy with his scoring average dipping to its lowest level since his rookie campaign.

Marion has found an offensive comfort zone in March. His scoring average (15.6 ppg), field goal percentage (.568) and shots per game (12.6) are by far the best of any full month this season.

“He’s a veteran guy, and I think he understands what’s at stake at this point,” Jason Kidd said. “He’s starting to get into a rhythm and is a little more comfortable.

“As much as we ask him to play defensively – he pretty much takes the toughest challenge out there – he’s starting to get good looks and make them. And I think he’s starting to be aggressive.”

The Mavs’ renewed emphasis on running has helped Marion. He’s at his best finishing on the fast break or getting early post-ups in flow offense. Plus, as he pointed out, the faster pace means more possessions, which results in more shots for everybody.

This style of play suits Marion, who’s peaking as an all-around weapon just in time for the playoffs.