His 12 points against the Detroit Pistons fell well short of his average, but this might have been Ellis’ most impressive all-around outing of the season.
Ellis matched his season high with 13 assists and committed only two turnovers. He played dominant defense -- yes, you read that right -- holding former Milwaukee Bucks backcourt partner Brandon Jennings to two points on 1-of-7 shooting. And Ellis took over the game in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the final frame.
"Ellis played a great, great game," coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. "Fantastic defense, great floor game, timely scoring. He was the key player tonight."
Ellis arrived in Dallas with a tarnished reputation as a me-first guy after a miserable season and a half trying to carry mediocre-at-best Bucks teams. Ellis, who wanted to escape Milwaukee so badly that he turned down a three-year, $36 million offer and ended up getting a lot less in free agency, insisted that all he wanted to do was win and welcomed the opportunity to prove it.
This is the kind of night that leaves no question about winning being the priority for Ellis, who has proven a lot of people wrong with his efficiency all season.
The finishing touch wasn’t Ellis’ fourth-quarter scoring. It was him diving on the hardwood to come up with a loose ball with less than 30 seconds to play, eliminating the tiny morsel of hope that the Pistons had of making a miracle comeback.
Ellis’ offensive performance was a sweet blend of patience and aggressiveness. He was a force in the first half despite attempting only two field goals and scoring only two points. He dominated as a penetrating distributor, dishing out 11 assists by halftime, several of which led to easy dunks or layups for Shawn Marion and Samuel Dalembert or wide-open 3s for Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter.
When the opportunities opened up for Ellis to score, he pounced, putting the Mavs on his back with his seventh double-digit fourth-quarter point total of the season.
Ellis wasn’t going to let the Mavs lose this game.
Wayne’s work: The Mavs signed Wayne Ellington with the belief that he’d provide strong perimeter defense and solid 3-point shooting off the bench. He’s been a highly paid cheerleader for most of the season, but that appears to be changing.
Ellington, who has more DNP-CDs than 3-pointers made this season, got significant playing time for the second straight game and took advantage of his minutes against the Pistons. Ellington had seven points on 2-of-3 shooting, two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 16 minutes.
The playing time for Ellington is coming at the expense of Jae Crowder, who didn’t get off the bench for the first time this season. That leaves Ellis as the only Mav who has played every game this season.
Reunion Arena reunion: The timing of the Mavs' lone visit of the season to Detroit was fortuitous for two old friends. Former Mavs assistant coach Scott Roth, who forged a close bond with Nowitzki during Dirk's early seasons as a member of Don Nelson's first coaching staff with the Mavs, was just hired by Detroit this week to hop onto the bench beside Pistons interim coach John Loyer and serve as Nowitzki's welcoming committee at The Palace.