On a night when Dirk Nowitzki passed Jerry West to become the NBA’s No. 16 all-time leading scorer, the Dallas Mavericks hopped on Monta Ellis’ back and let him drag them to a 105-95 triumph over the Washington Wizards.
Tuesday’s victory at American Airlines Center pushed the Mavs’ record to 5-3, including 4-0 at home. It’s the first time since the 2007-08 season, when they won their first six games in Dallas, that the Mavs have won as many as four consecutive home games to start a season.
Nowitzki got in a groove and scored 19 points to raise his career total to 25,197, five more than West. Afterward, he paid tribute to one of the game’s all-time greats.
“Jerry is the man, he’s the logo and that says it all,” said Nowitzki, who converted 8 of 19 shot attempts. “It has been a great ride.
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“This is my 16th season and hopefully I can pass a couple more guys and win a couple more games and hopefully help this franchise make the playoffs.”
If Ellis can continue playing the way he did Tuesday, the Mavs are a cinch to be in better position to make the playoffs. Not only did Ellis contribute 19 points and seven assists, he also locked in on Bradley Beal and held him to just nine points on 2-of-10 shooting.
“The thing that I was really proud of and happy about tonight with his game was that he was a little frustrated early,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Ellis. “He was getting in the lane, he wasn’t getting calls, but he kept defending Beal.
“Beal’s coming off his career night [of 34 points] two nights ago in Oklahoma City, so defense on Beal was a big part of our game plan and Monta provided it. And then he was patient and disciplined [offensively], and in the fourth when we kind of went to him and he got it going and we rode him and he really helped us finish the game off.”
Of the 17 points the Mavs tallied in the fourth quarter, 10 came from Ellis. He also had four of the six field goals the Mavs converted in the fourth quarter, while being the glue that held the Mavs together when the Wizards chopped a 15-point deficit down to 89-84 with 8:38 left in the game.
“We were struggling during that point and time,” Carlisle said. “We were in the bonus, so wanted to get the ball in his hands.
“He made four or five consecutive shots or drives that gave us momentum, and it helped us get stops at the defensive end.”
Nowitzki and Ellis had help as the Mavs got 16 points from Vince Carter, 15 from Samuel Dalembert, 11 from Jose Calderon and nine points and 11 boards form DeJuan Blair.
On a night that Wayne Ellington was out with a right thigh contusion, the Mavericks shot 48.8 percent from the field and turned 19 Wizard turnovers into 17 points.
Meanwhile, the sellout crowd roared with approval when Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter to pass West on the all-time scoring list.
“It’s a monumental achievement to pass a player like that,” Carlisle said. “He’s going to pass more big names in the weeks and months to come.
“It’s been a fantastic career that Dirk’s had and we’re going to do everything possible to extend it as long as possible.”