MINNEAPOLIS — Shawn Marion was getting to the rim at will, knocking down 3-pointers and playing tough defense.
Even if the Minnesota Timberwolves think his defense was a little too tough on the last shot of the game, there was no disputing that “The Matrix” was back for Dallas on Monday night.
Marion scored 32 points, hit two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and swatted away Kevin Love’s 21-foot jumper at the buzzer to help the Mavericks outlast the Timberwolves in a 100-98 victory.
The Mavs led by 19 late in the first half and seven with 3 minutes to play, but the Wolves had the ball down two in the closing seconds. Love got the ball in the corner and rose up for a 3-pointer, but Marion swooped in and swatted it away as Love looked for a foul. None was called.
“Heh, heh. It was not a foul,” Marion said.
The Timberwolves disagreed.
Love, who had 36 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, stood watching the scoreboard in disbelief, and the Mavericks walked off the court winners against the Wolves for the first time in three tries this season.
HEAT 97, NUGGETS 94
DENVER — LeBron James returned from a groin injury to score 26 points on his birthday, and the Miami Heat beat the skidding Denver Nuggets 97-94 Monday night despite losing Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole during the game.
James, who turned 29 on Monday, injured his groin Friday during the Heat’s overtime loss at Sacramento. He sat out the following game, a 108-107 win Saturday in Portland, before coming back to help send the Nuggets to their seventh consecutive loss.
Chris Bosh had 17 points and Ray Allen 13, including six in the final 5:08, as Miami won for the ninth time in 11 games.
Ty Lawson had 26 points to lead the Nuggets.
While the Heat got James back, they were without Wade and Cole for much of the game.
Cole left midway through the third quarter after taking a fall at the end of a driving layup attempt and hitting his face on the floor.
He had come into the game in place of Wade, who didn’t return after halftime because of back spasms, the Heat said on Twitter.
Cole went up for a shot against Lawson, who was called for a foul, and fell awkwardly face first to the floor. Cole remained down for several minutes while being tended to by trainers before being helped to his feet and assisted off the floor to the locker room for treatment.
Joel Anthony came in for Cole and made both free throws.
Trailing by nine at the break, the Heat opened the third quarter with a 13-0 run, regaining the lead on a 3-pointer by James. Denver fought back to take a 77-22 lead into the fourth quarter, getting successive baskets from Randy Foye and a dunk from Timofey Mozgov to help offset another 3 by James.
The teams alternated scores for most of the fourth quarter, with neither letting the other pull away. After Lawson hit a 3 to put Denver up 90-89, James and Allen converted jumpers on consecutive possessions for a 93-90 Miami lead with 1:36 remaining.