DALLAS -- Shawn Marion has watched Kevin Love's evolution from being an above-average player to one of the top players in the entire NBA.
As a rookie power forward with the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2008-'09 season, Love averaged just 11.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. So far this season, the six-year veteran is fourth in the league in scoring (26.4 points) and second in rebounding (12.9) while leading the NBA with 54 double-doubles.
Marion, the Dallas Mavericks' 15-year veteran forward, knows what has led to Love's rapid success.
"He's a lot more mobile than he was when he first came in,'' Marion said after Wednesday morning's shootaround at American Airlines Center. "He lost that weight and kept it off and it's definitely helped his game tremendously.
"I work out with him in the summertime -- I know what we do together.''
Love estimates that he's lost probably 30 pounds since he entered the NBA. The weight loss has had a direct coorelation with him being named to three All-Star teams.
Love said: "I've been able to keep that weight off and it's really helped me with my legs and my mobility.''
In three games against the Mavs this season Love has averaged 29.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per contest. He also has converted 32-of-59 shots -- he's 7-of-18 from 3-point range -- in those three games against Dallas.
"He's extremely skilled, has a great knack for drawing fouls, is very physical,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "He can score at the basket, mid-range, long-range and very long range.
"Pound for pound he's as good a rebounder as any of us have seen in this league for a,long time. He causes a lot of problems and he's one of the great big reasons they get to the free throw line a lot.''
The Mavs (41-27) hope to keep Love and the Timberwolves (33-32) off the free throw line as much as possible when the two teams collide tonight at 7:30 at American Airlines Center. But they know it won't be an easy task.
"He's a handful,'' Marion said. "For some reason he just has a knack for being around the ball and getting offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds, and they look for him a lot.
"We just got to make it hard for him and do what we need to do to get this win.''
-- Dwain Price
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