INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joked that Indiana Pacers shooting guard Monta Ellis would probably "go for 50 points’’ against his team Wednesday night.
Cuban wasn’t even close.
Ellis went scoreless against the Mavs in the first half on eight field goal tries. But he more than made up for it in the second half when he poured in 19 points and ignited a huge rally that helped the Pacers to a convincing 107-81 whipping of the Mavs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
In the aftermath, there was no boasting on the part of Ellis, who played the last two seasons for the Mavs, but opted out of the final year of his contract so he could become a free agent this past July.
"I was able to get in transition at the beginning of the second half and get some easy buckets,’’ said Ellis, who converted on seven of his last eight shots. "Shots just started falling.’’
Those shots that fell in – coupled with the win – must have made for a nice celebration for Ellis, who the Mavs made no attempt to re-sign when he became a free agent.
"It’s another game – we need W’s,’’ Ellis said. "Nothing personal.’’
As the Mavs’ record against teams with a winning record dropped to 2-8 while they suffered their worst loss of the season, they know they did a bang-up job against Ellis in the first half.
"I don’t we shut him down,’’ forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "He had some good looks there that didn’t go in, and in the second half, you know how it is with scorers.
"He’s a streaky shooter and streaky scorer, and he faked out somebody and then had a rhythm one from like 15 feet that went in, then he got a layup on the break. That’s how shooters and scorers think. When they see one or two go in they’re off to the races, and that was the case with him.’’
Ellis, who signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Pacers this past July, missed his first nine shots Wednesday. However, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle credits his former go-to player for hanging in the game and not losing his focus.
"He keeps playing,’’ Carlisle said. "He kept playing and gave himself a chance to do well.’
Overall, Ellis was 7-of-17 from the field – 3-of-5 from 3-point range – and also had three assists, two rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot in 33 minutes.
"We just didn’t play great defense on him,’’ small forward Chandler Parsons said. "He saw a couple of layups go in early in the second half and once that happens he’s going to make shots.’’
Ellis averaged 18.9 points last year for the Mavs, but he only averaging 12.3 points this year for the Pacers. That’s his lowest coring output since the 2005-’06 year -- his rookie season with the Golden State Warriors.
Yet he seems comfortable fitting in as the Pacers’ No. 3 scorer behind Paul George and C. J. Miles.
"Monta is at the point in his career where scoring 25 points a night isn’t the most important thing,’’ Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Winning every night is.
"I love that he’s all about winning right now.’’
Ellis even tossed some praise in the direction of the Pacers’ big men, who, instead of forcing shots, decided to pass the ball back out on the perimeter for a better look at the basket.
"That’s good for our team,’’ Ellis said. "The thing is, they draw so much attention, those passes will be open.
“Tonight, they did a wonderful job of seeing that we were able to get some open shots, and we were able to knock them down.’’
In the second half the pacers were able to knock down so many shots that they outscored the Mavs 62-34. It was the lowest scoring half of the season for the Mavs, who will take a 14-12 record into Friday’s home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I don’t think we had a bad defensive first half,’’ Ellis said. "I just think they made some shots and got a couple of drives to drives to the basket.
"I just think in the second half we were up more and we didn’t allow them to get to the basket easily.’’
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com