Wayne Ellington is a patient man.
That patience is paying off for the Dallas Mavericks’ fifth-year guard.
In the Mavs’ first 55 games this season, Ellington played less than 10 minutes in 16 games and did not play in 28 of them because of a coach’s decision.
But in the past four games Ellington has manufactured 30 points, five rebounds and seven assists in 61 minutes. He’s also an impressive 10-of-14 from the field, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity,” Ellington said after Thursday’s practice at American Airlines Center. “I just come in here and have been working hard and doing whatever the team needs me to do.”
Ellington has moved ahead of Jae Crowder in the rotation.
“Wayne’s been very consistent all year in his approach and his work ethic in practice,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “When he’s gotten a chance to play in games he’s gone in there and played his game and done it in an aggressive way.”
Ellington was ready to play when he got the call from Carlisle. But that doesn’t mean his patience wasn’t tested.
“It’s tough, it’s very tough,” Ellington said, referring to the numerous games sitting and watching on the bench. “But it tests your professionalism because it’s part of the game.
“You got to stay ready and when your number is called you’ve got to be ready to produce.”
During Wednesday’s 108-89 win over New Orleans, Ellington produced a season-high tying 12 points in 22 minutes while making 4 of 6 3-point attempts.
The Mavs (36-23) hope he can duplicate those numbers when they host the Chicago Bulls (31-26) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s tough not to play for months and not to be in the rotation,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “You get one chance in this league and he took it and grabbed it and ran with it.
“He’s one of our better shooters obviously, he defends well, and he’s one of our better perimeter defenders. Even when he wasn’t playing he was always working, getting extra shots, getting extra conditioning, so I’m proud of him, and when he got the chance he was ready.”
Mavs trio shines
The Mavs sent center Bernard James, forward Jae Crowder and point guard Shane Larkin down to play for the Texas Legends of the D-League.
James collected 38 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks, Larkin had nine points and nine assists, and Crowder posted a triple-double with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists as the Legends defeated the Los Angeles D-Fenders 121-103 at Dr Pepper Arena.
James, Crowder and Larkin will be recalled by the Mavs and be in uniform for Friday’s game against the Chicago Bulls.
The stint in the D-League afforded all three players a chance to get some playing time. But it’s playing time on the NBA level is what they covet the most.
“I’ve not been able to play the way I’m capable of playing downtown,” Crowder said. “So getting a triple-double [Thursday] really has given me the confidence that I need and knowing that I still haven’t lost it, and I still can play this game of basketball even though my confidence may sway downtown.”