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NBA Finals notebook

New lease for old pro

Marion making impact on series

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / June 10, 2011

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DALLAS — With Ray Allen exercising his contract option to return to the Celtics for a 16th NBA season, 30-somethings continue to make an impact in a young men’s league.

Shawn Marion is another. “The Matrix’’ was a four-time All-Star who apparently had lost a few steps before arriving in Dallas in July 2009 in a trade with Toronto. The 33-year-old Marion averaged 12.5 points this season, mostly as a reserve, but has emerged recently as the Mavericks’ second offensive option behind Dirk Nowitzki.

In the five NBA Finals games, Marion is averaging 14 points on 49 percent shooting, and also has had a positive effect with his defense on LeBron James. Marion hardly was considered a series-changing player when the Finals began, but he has resurrected his reputation with his step back in time.

Marion was a product of those score-at-all-costs offenses in Phoenix, but he didn’t make the same splash with stops in Miami and Toronto. However, improved emphasis on conditioning, a new regimen that ices his entire body, and getting more rest has extended his career.

“You’ve definitely got to take care of yourself,’’ he said before last night’s game. “It’s so many different things you can do, but I am one of the fortunate guys because I haven’t had any bad injuries. If you can stay away from having injuries, you can have a longer career. It’s about how you are maintaining your body and definitely eating [right]. But it also depends on how much pain you can tolerate, too.’’

Stirred, not shaken There were many questions about James’s bizarre Game 4 performance, and how he planned to respond for the rest of the series. On Tuesday night, James finished with just 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting in the Heat’s 86-83 loss, the lowest point total of his postseason career.

Some have said his legacy could be affected by how he performed last night.

“This is a big game, probably the biggest game of my life, and I’m approaching it that way. Well, not probably, it is,’’ said James, who had 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in Miami’s 112-103 loss last night. “This is what it’s about, this is what we all dream about, being in this moment. No one ever said it was going to be easy.’’

James’s Game 4 performance drew comparisons to his effort in Game 5 of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals against the Celtics. James scored 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting in the Cavaliers’ 120-88 loss. Two nights later, he responded with 27 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists, although the Celtics ended the series with a 94-85 win.

Haywood out After looking hobbled in a brief Game 4 appearance, Mavericks backup center Brendan Haywood was left off the active list last night because of a strained right hip flexor . . . The Pistons are expected to ask for permission to speak with Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank for their head coaching position. Danny Ainge would not confirm whether he has been approached by Detroit GM Joe Dumars. The Bucks have given the Pistons permission to interview assistant Kelvin Sampson, the Associated Press reported . . . After canning eight 3-pointers in the second-round series against the Celtics, James Jones has not played in the Finals. He has been replaced by Mike Miller in the Heat bench rotation.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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