Monta Ellis' buckets like money in the bank

DALLAS -- Death, taxes and buckets from Monta Ellis.

OK, maybe Ellis filling it up isn’t that much of a lock, but it seems that way after his first few weeks in a Dallas Mavericks uniform.

Check out Ellis’ point totals for the 7-4 Mavs: 32, 20, 18, 30, 20, 23, 18, 19, 20, 19, 24.

“We know we can rely on him for 20-plus every night,” Dirk Nowitzki said after Monday’s 97-94 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. “That’s obviously a luxury to have.”

It seemed likely at halftime that this would be Ellis’ lowest-scoring game so far this season. He had only five points in the first two quarters as the Mavs fell behind Philadelphia. And then Ellis caught fire.

Ellis had 13 points and three assists in the third quarter, when the Mavs seized the lead for good. He went into attack mode, hitting half of his six shots from the floor and all six of his free throws in the frame. He finished the game with 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 10 assists, the eighth time the nine-year veteran has had a 20-10 game while shooting at least 50 percent from the floor.

That sample was Ellis at his best -- blending aggressiveness, unselfishness and efficiency.

That’s been pretty close to the norm for Ellis in Dallas. He arrived here as an analytics antihero, a scorer with no conscience and low shooting percentages. But Ellis is consistently producing pretty numbers, averaging 22.1 points and 5.5 assists, while shooting 47.3 from the floor.

“Really, on this team, I don’t really have to [force things],” said Ellis, who has attempted more than 20 shots only once this season. “We have so many guys that can score. My main thing is attack and make plays not only for myself, but for others. Get in there and find open guys.

“Like I said, we’ve got so many scorers and shooters on this team that the spacing is so wide open. It makes the game so much easier for me.”

Few attack as often as Ellis. According to SportVU player-tracking data, Ellis entered the night leading the league in points per game off of drives (8.1), ranked second behind Denver’s Ty Lawson in drives per game (11.2) and third behind Lawson and Houston’s Jeremy Lin in team points generated off of drives (12.2).

Half of Ellis’ 184 field goal attempts have come within eight feet of the basket.

Ellis is playing to his strengths, and that accentuates the strengths of shooters around him, such as Nowitzki, Vince Carter and Jose Calderon.

“It opens the floor,” Carter said. “He shows great patience. He moves the ball well and finds the open man, but he just creates and he demands attention like Dirk does.”

Added Nowitzki: “He’s so quick. He’s always attacking. If you relax one second, one quick dribble, one quick step, and he’s at the rim laying it in. He’s just constantly looking to attack and if it’s not there, find the shooters or find the rollers. He’s been great scoring and making plays for his teammates.”

It's still early in Ellis' Dallas tenure, but he's been the most reliable and explosive weapon in the Mavs' arsenal so far this season.