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Opening Tip: Mavs want even more Monta drives

DALLAS -- Monta Ellis has more drives this season than all but one NBA player.

The Mavs want Ellis attacking even more often.

"We’re going to get him attacking as often as we can,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re going to get him moving towards the rim. His attack-the-paint game is one of the most difficult to game plan for because there’s just some unpredictable things about the way he attacks.

"He just doesn’t do it the same way every time, so we need that. And as time goes on, the turnovers are going to go down because recognition is go to get better, and our spacing and feel for each other is going to get better as well."

According to the NBA’s advanced player-tracking statistics, Houston’s Jeremy Lin is the only player with more drives than Ellis this season. Ellis is averaging 11.3 drives per game entering Tuesday night’s matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Those are often productive plays even when they don’t end with an Ellis bucket or assist. He’s shooting 46.2 percent on drives so far this season, but a missed shot can be as good as an assist if Ellis draws defensive help, making it easier for a teammate to get a tip-in. The Mavs are averaging 13.3 points per game on plays featuring an Ellis drive.

Ellis’ poor field goal percentage in Milwaukee last season resulted in him getting a bad rap as one of the league’s least efficient scorers. However, owner Mark Cuban noted the positive impact of some of Ellis’ misses while weighing the risk of reaching an agreement with the guard this summer.

“Once the money got there, we had to do a little bit more homework, and that’s when we started to see the things that we liked,” said Cuban, who eventually signed Ellis to a three-year, $25 million deal. “Because you think you know a player, but until you really watch a lot of tape, you don’t really know.

“Even then, I don’t think last year he got a chance to show what a good passer he is. At least, we didn’t see it. We knew he could pass. We knew there were things he did in terms of getting to the basket that would open things up for other players that he wasn’t getting credit for that we gave him credit for. But it did take some warming up.”

The Mavs hope Ellis is just getting warmed up as far as attacking off the dribble goes.