SALT LAKE CITY – For the first time all season, Monta Ellis didn’t bounce back up when one of his drives ended with him hitting the hardwood.
Ellis crashed to the court, his tailbone unforgivingly breaking his high-speed fall, when Utah center Derrick Favors delivered a hard foul in the first quarter. He stayed on the floor, flat on his back, for several seconds. The Dallas Mavericks called a timeout to give Ellis a little extra time to recover.
“It ain’t nothing, nothing at all,” Ellis said after the Mavs’ win over the Utah Jazz. “I stayed in the game, didn’t I?”
Indeed he did, which comes as no surprise, considering that Ellis is the Mavs’ iron man.
After walking it off, Ellis split a pair of free throws and then made a 3-pointer on the Mavs’ next possession. Ellis played the rest of the game like nothing was wrong, logging 38 minutes and finishing with 16 points and five assists.
“He’s a warrior,” Dirk Nowitzki said, offering Ellis the highest compliment the future Hall of Famer can give a teammate. “I don’t think he’s missed a game this year, if I’m correct. I mean, that’s huge. I always tried to do that in my career, play as many games as I could. I had a couple of 82s, which is hard to do in this league, especially for him.
“He’s a little guy. He weighs a buck-20 probably and he goes in there hard against those big guys. He gets hit hard, goes to the floor hard and he always gets up and attacks. The next time, he goes even harder in there. It sets a great tone for us and how hard we’ve got to play.”
Ellis played with a strained hamstring during the road trip before the All-Star break, surprising coach Rick Carlisle by even boarding the team flight. He played through an illness in March. As a guard who leads the league in drives, he’s dealt with who-knows-how-many bumps and bruises this season but never needed a day off.
“He hasn’t missed a rep of practice or a game,” said Carlisle, who declared that he was “in awe” of Ellis getting up and continuing to play aggressive after Tuesday night’s crash. “What he did getting up off the floor sent a great message to the other guys.”
Ellis insisted that he wasn’t injured. Carlisle, noting that adrenaline is a heck of a pain-killer, expected that Ellis would be awfully sore in the morning.
But the Mavs are certain that Ellis will be ready to roll Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs, just as he has been for every game this season.
“I don’t expect him to be asking out,” Carlisle said. “That’s for sure.”