Shawn Marion in, Chauncey Billups out
DALLAS -- On a scale of one to 10, Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion ranked the pain emanating from the bruised ribs on his left side at 9 1/2. Nonetheless, he said a couple Advil and special padding under his jersey will keep him in the lineup Thursday night against the New York Knicks.
He said with 18 games left in the regular season and the Mavs having lost two of three, he had no choice but to give it a go.
"We're down. I can walk. I'm going to fight through it," Marion said. "Going to get drugged up a little bit, take my dose of Advil and fight through it. We're in a tough stretch right now, we need everybody to be in and getting our stability to make this last push."
While Marion gave it a go Thursday night, Peja Stojakovic missed his second consecutive game with a stiff neck. Marion took Stojakovic's spot in the starting lineup.
Knicks guard Chauncey Billups missed a sixth straight game due to an injury to his left thigh. He shot before the game and coach Mike D'Antoni declared him "close," saying he could return Sunday. The team is hoping he can practice Saturday.
Marion crashed into a cameraman along the baseline during Wednesday's 93-92 loss at New Orleans after Hornets forward Marco Belinelli shoved Marion in the back as he went up for a breakaway layup. Marion went flailing and caught a camera square in his ribs, which he said were already tender from an incident in Phoenix prior to the All-Star break.
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Belinelli was called for a Flagrant 1 foul, but on Thursday the league upgraded the penalty to a Flagrant 2 and Belinelli was fined $10,000. Had Belinelli, who hit a key 3-pointer with less than a minute to go in the Hornets' late rally, been called for a Flagrant 2 initially, it would have resulted in an automatic ejection.
As Marion dressed for the game, he demonstrated how gingerly he must lift his left arm and suggested that he's lucky that he shoots right-handed. He said his rebounding could be compromised.
He said he will assume his usual defensive duties and that means guarding the Knicks' newest acquisition, Carmelo Anthony.
"I'll be all right," Marion said. "You just can't think about it. It's how much pain you can tolerate at the end of the day. What you can fight through and what you can't fight through."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associate Press was used in this report.
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