MINNEAPOLIS -- In this case, quite literally, Shawn Marion had the last laugh.
The forward just finished off his best game in a Dallas uniform -- 32 points, six rebounds, three assists -- in the Mavericks' 100-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Afterward, in the visitors' locker room, he was asked about the final play.
"It was not a foul," he said with a chuckle, then a laugh.
In a game with seismic momentum changes that turned a possible Dallas blowout into a tense battle, Marion was credited with blocking Kevin Love's 21-foot jumper as time expired. Of course, from the perspective of the 16,111 fans and Wolves coach Rick Adelman, the block was actually a foul that should have sent Love to the line for two free throws and a chance to push the game into overtime.
"He got fouled," an exasperated Adelman said. "I wonder what that would have been if (Dirk) Nowitzki, LeBron James, all the top players in the league ..."
Adelman stopped himself, then finished: "A guy reaches on a last-second shot like that, instead of challenging it. Maybe they don't understand that Kevin is one of the top five players in this league."
Regardless, the night ended in frustration for the Timberwolves.
The advantage grew to 21 early in the third quarter before the Wolves came roaring back. In a 38-19 third quarter, Minnesota forward Corey Brewer scored 14 of his 16 points and Love had 12 as the Wolves raced back to tie the game at 81 on Brewer's fast-break dunk as time expired.
Love, who had 11 rebounds to go with his 36 points -- his 11th game with 25 points or more -- hit a 3-pointer to give the Wolves a one-point lead with 10:18 left. Minnesota guard J.J. Barea's runner push the lead to three with 8:45 left.
The Wolves still led by one when Marion's wide-open 3-pointer from the left side gave the Mavs a 92-90 lead. After a Love miss, Marion hit another 3-pointer. Before Adelman could reinsert Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio into the game, Nowitzki's jumper made it 97-90 with three minutes left.
"He was the key to the game," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Marion, whose point total was a season high. "He played both ends of the floor. We didn't call one play for him, and he just produced."
The Wolves pulled back within two twice, the second time when center Nikola Pekovic got the last two of his 18 points on a layup with 39.9 seconds left. The Wolves got the ball back with 6.5 seconds left after a Dallas turnover. Ultimately, Love's missed shot had the Mavericks celebrating and Love shaking his head.
"I'm the type of person if you see a foul -- an obvious foul -- you call it," Love said. "And I thought that was pretty obvious. Just look at the replay. ... It was obvious he got arm. That's why I didn't know how to react. I wasn't going to yell at (the official). That wasn't going to do anything. I just walked off the court."
The Wolves (15-16) failed to get above .500 while losing for the first time in three games. They got just five points from their bench.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (18-13) talked like a team hitting its stride.
"We knew they'd make a run," Marion said. "We were able to hold our ground and get a win. I'm all about winning the game, man. Whatever it takes."
NOTES: The Wolves are inching toward full health. C Ronny Turiaf, out since the second game of the season with a fractured elbow, took another step when he engaged in a three-on-three game with teammates after shootaround Monday. It was his first contact work since the injury Nov. 1. F Chase Budinger, who has not played this season after having a second surgery on his knee, continues to test the knee in full practice. "It's been great, no swelling," Budinger said. ... Minnesota rookie G Shabazz Muhammad hasn't discussed the possibility of going to the NBA Development League for playing time once Turiaf and Budinger return. He said he would prefer to stay with the Wolves. ... After suffering with a stomach illness the last three days, Mavericks G Wayne Ellington -- whose career began in Minnesota -- was available Monday, but he did not play. ... Wolves G Ricky Rubio picked up his 1,000th career assist on F Kevin Love's first-quarter 3-pointer.