Injured or not, there was never any doubt whether or not Monta Ellis was going to play Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards.
The question was how effective would the Dallas Mavericks’ shooting guard be after he left Sunday’s game against Oklahoma City late in the fourth quarter and did not return due to an injured left ankle.
Ellis answered that challenge by exploding for 11 of his game-high 20 points in the second quarter and the Mavs went on to overpower the Wizards, 114-87. The nine-year veteran also did a bang-up defensive job on Wizards’ high-scoring shooting guard Bradley Beal, holding him to just 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
“I thought Monta did a fantastic job on Beal trying to chase him everywhere, chase him off some shots,’’ Dirk Nowitzki said. “I thought he was phenomenal, especially this morning.’’
Despite some close calls with injuries, Ellis has played in all 115 games since joining the Mavs. And he wasn’t about to miss this one against the Wizards.
“Oh man, I was going to play regardless,’’ said Ellis, who made 8-of-15 shots. “I just had to ice (the ankle).
“The great thing about it is it didn’t swell on me, so that was a plus, just keeping it loose.
“I came in and did my tub this morning, saw (head athletic trainer) Casey (Smith), went home and iced it, kept pressure on it and when I came in I just didn’t think about it. I just went out there and played basketball.’’
And it wasn’t just Ellis’ offense which the Mavs were gladly discussing after they handed the Wizards their worst loss of the season.
Meanwhile, whatever was going on with Ellis physically during Tuesday morning’s shootaround, it had disappeared by the time the game started.
“I thought the key to the game was Ellis’ defense on Beal,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “Beal is a dynamic scorer and he’s one of the real keys to their team, and Monta really took the challenge from the beginning.
“(Beal) was 1-for-7 in the first half, which was the reason we had the lead. Monta just stayed into him the whole time and that was really big.’’
From the Mavs’ perspective, it’s good to know they can count on Ellis to show up and show out whenever there’s a game to be played.
“I thought he was a little stiff (Tuesday morning), but he’s been a warrior for us the entire time he’s been here,’’ Nowitzki said. “He never misses games.’’
The fact that Ellis will answer the bell, no matter his physical circumstances, is a bonus for the Mavs.
“He played sick the other night, he played hurt tonight,’’ Nowitzki said. “I can’t say enough about him.
“He’s been great ever since he got here.’’