DALLAS -- Monta Ellis managed to smile after one of the worst shooting nights of his nine-year career.
"Mama said there'd be nights like this," Ellis said after going 2-of-16 from the field against the Golden State Warriors. "The biggest thing is we got the win."
As far as Ellis' off night goes, the most encouraging thing is that he still found ways to contribute to the Dallas Mavericks' 103-99 victory.
Ellis matched his season high with 10 assists, including a pretty feed to Samuel Dalembert for a dunk after driving with 1:21 left, stopping a 13-0 Warriors run that got Golden State back into the game. Dirk Nowitzki called that dish "the biggest play of the game."
Coach Rick Carlisle cited a play by Ellis that probably would have gone unnoticed as the moment that stuck with him about the shooting guard's off night. Carlisle recalled Ellis, who was bothered by a tight back, racing back on defense after missing a shot to pick up Golden State guard Stephen Curry and prevent the elite shooter by lining up a 3-pointer.
"He was frustrated during the game, but it did not affect him at the defensive end and it did not affect his playmaking," Carlisle said of Ellis. "He had a rough shooting night and yet he was a major factor making winning plays. It's huge for us."
Ellis has been a phenomenally consistent, efficient scorer for the Mavs, averaging a team-high 23.5 points on 49.6 percent shooting entering the night and putting up at least 18 points in each of the first 15 games. His scoring average dipped to 22.3 and his field-goal percentage to 47.4 after his tough night.
Ellis scored only four points, matching the fewest of his career when he attempted at least 10 shots from the field. He has had a lower shooting percentage only once with a minimum of 10 attempts in his career, when he was 1-of-14 in a Milwaukee loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last season.
"I just had to continue to play," said Ellis, who was 1-of-7 in the paint and 1-of-9 on jump shots. "There were shots that I took that I've been making, even when I go to the basket, the layups that I missed. It was just one of those nights where they wouldn't go in.
"Coach just told me to stay aggressive, and I did. If one thing is not going, I have to do something else. That's what I did tonight."
Ellis did a respectable job defensively on Klay Thompson, who finished with 20 points but was only 5-of-16 from the field. And he did an outstanding job distributing the ball.
As good as Ellis had been as a scorer until Wednesday night, an argument can be made that his work as a facilitator is more important to the Mavs' success. Dallas is now 9-0 when Ellis has at least five assists.
"He has the ability to score, but he's been dialed in moving the ball, finding open guys, making plays for everybody else as well," sixth man Vince Carter said. "That's what makes him a special player. That's what makes him very important to our team."