In a game filled with huge unbalanced shots from players like Dirk Nowitzki and Nicolas Batum, followed by some clutch shots from Damian Lillard, it was Monta Ellis, the second half of the dynamic duo the Dallas Mavericks have finally put together, that had the last laugh with a game-winning, buzzer-beating shot to give the Mavs a 108-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers came into the game with the best record in the west and an impressive resume of wins against teams like the Pacers, Thunder and Spurs. However, offense wasn’t enough on its own in this one against a Mavs team that’s providing quite the turnaround compared to last year. Dirk Nowitzki is completely healthy, back to hitting fade away shots from deep while relying on only one leg, scoring 28 points, and Monta Ellis does the rest.
It seemed like another crazy three pointer from Damian Lillard, who led the Blazers with 32 points and 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, would send the game into overtime, but Monta Ellis had other plans. He caught the inbound pass, flew by DeJuan Blair who set Ellis up for an open shot with a nice little screen that took Wesley Matthews off the right trajectory to bother Ellis, sending the Mavs to the locker room in celebration.
Calderon, we were walking out, we made eye contact and I told him, ‘Give me the ball, I’m ready for it. He gave it to me and I came off and hit the shot.
Ellis finished the game with 22 points and most of the attention, but it was Dirk Nowitzki with 28 points making life quite difficult for LaMarcus Aldridge who isn’t used to guarding someone who can hit corner jumpers and tough shots just as well as him, which somewhat took him off his offensive rhythm, watching Nowitzki from up close draining 12-of-22 from the field, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
An interesting change from Rick Carlisle has been going with offense instead of solidity. He changed up the rotation a bit, giving DeJuan Blair a spot in the lineup, earning 15 points and 8 rebounds from the short center, who is a lot more efficient than Samuel Dalembert, especially in games such as this, which aren’t really contests for Dalembert to add much in except for some minutes of rebounding. Dallas were losing by 11 points in the only 12 minutes Dalembert contributed, finishing with 0 points.
The Blazers didn’t seem broken from the loss, knowing that these things happen, and it was a shot here or there that decided the game. They do need to get more from their bench, while Wesley Matthews had an awful night with only 0-of-4 from beyond the arc and 2-of-10 from the field, but they cannot let a shooting slump end this wonderful start to the season.
The Mavs have a bit more to offer from their bench – Vince Carter and a surprising Gal Mekel with 7 points in 12 minutes, but it’s probably going to be the ability of their 1-2 punch, Nowitzki and Ellis, that determines just how far this team goes this season.