CHICAGO – At the rate he’s going, Monta Ellis likely will be playing in his first NBA All-Star game this season.
Tuesday night on the road against one of the league’s toughest defensive teams, Ellis poured in a season-high 38 points as the Dallas Mavericks held on to beat the Chicago Bulls, 132-129, in double overtime.
Although Ellis took a whopping 35 shots – and made 16 – he was able to shrewd the Bulls’ rugged defense for his third 30-point outing of the season. Ellis, however, refused to take any credit for any of the crucial baskets he kept making time and time again at the United Center.
"They’re a great defensive team,’’ Ellis said of the Bulls. "I think my teammates did a great job. . .of screening, so they had to switch and they gave me jumps shots.
"Some went down, some didn’t go. The majority of the time when they needed to, they went in.’’
Ellis’ big night came against the third-best team in the eastern Conference. He also scored 30 points in a win last Friday in Toronto, who owns the best record in the East.
Ellis also poured in 34 points in a win in Washington on Nov. 19. The Wizards have the second-best record in the East.
Coach Rick Carlisle has been singing Ellis’ praises for quite some time. Tuesday was no different.
"He was great,’’ Carlisle said. "He’s a special player and tonight he showed you why.
"His shooting numbers were a little unusual. But every time we needed a big shot or a big play, he made it offensively and he made a lot of them defensively, too.’’
Ellis hit three free throws with 1.2 seconds left to send the game into overtime after he was fouled by Kirk Hinrich while attempting a 3-point shot. Then, he went three-for-three and tallied seven of the 11 points the Mavs scored in the second overtime.
"Monta was incredible there in the second overtime,’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and a season-high 10 assists. "He hit every shot – tough pull-ups -- he was incredible.’’
Ellis was so incredible that the Mavs didn’t even mind that he attempted 35 field goals.
"It’s whatever the game gives it,’’ Nowitzki said. "The way (the Bulls) play the pick-and-rolls with the (centers), they were extremely far back.
"He crossed back over and then he was wide open from like 15, 16, 17 feet. We want him to take those shots.’’
And take them Ellis did. Time and time again.
"If that’s what the defense gives him we want him to take those aggressively and step into them like in practice, and he made a lot of plays,’’ Nowitzki said. "We need him to attack every night.
"This is one of our go-to guys and …you got to keep attacking. Sometimes you might miss a couple, but you’ve got to keep going. That’s what a go-to guy needs to do.’’
Its talk like that which enables Ellis to remain calm and sink even the toughest of shots. Like the 3-pointer he drilled with 39 seconds left in the second overtime that inched the Mavs ahead 130-129.
"My team believed in me when I had the ball at that time,’’ Ellis said. "Coach, even the big fella Dirk, when they have the confidence that they have in me, it makes it so much easier to step in that situation and come through in the clutch.’’