Buzz: Mavs want more FTs for Monta

HOUSTON -- Monta Ellis attacks the basket more than any NBA player, but his free throw attempts have dwindled in December.

That’s a source of some consternation for his bosses.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has mentioned on at least a couple of occasions his concern over Ellis not getting enough whistles. Coach Rick Carlisle added his voice to the chorus after Monday night’s win against the Houston Rockets.

“It’s frustrating when you go in there and there’s contact and you feel like you should be getting some whistles in your favor,” Carlisle said. “But, hey, the second half, he just kept going, kept attacking.”

Ellis actually shot 10 free throws against the Rockets, but he was only 4-of-16 from the floor during his 18-point performance. Ellis is averaging only 4.3 free throw attempts per game in December, dropping his average for the season to 5.7 free throws per game.

For the most part, Ellis will let the owner and coach address the subject for him.

“Most of the time, I try to,” said Ellis, who has a league-high 290 drives this season, according to SportVU player tracking data. “But, you know, in the course of the game, it’s emotion. At the same time, I’ve just got to keep playing.”

Sammy D starts: Center Samuel Dalembert was in the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 3, given the unenviable assignment of banging with Dwight Howard.

Carlisle praised Dalembert’s defense despite the fact Howard had 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Dalembert had eight points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes, his most since the Mavs’ Nov. 20 win over the Rockets.

“It’s always a readjustment,” Dalembert said of starting again. “It’s a different thing when you’re starting and then when you’re coming in with the bench. Either way, I just manage myself to get ready. Then when I do get a call, I just go out there and give my best.”

DeJuan Blair, who had started the past seven games, didn’t get off the bench. Carlisle said his decision on the starting center would “probably” be made on a game-to-game basis and influenced by matchups for the foreseeable future.

Merry Christmas: The Mavericks did not want to spend their holidays stewing over a losing streak. They avoided that by coming out strong in the second half, which they opened with a 15-1 run.

“You don’t ever want to sit on two days at Christmas with a three-game losing streak,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We definitely wanted to have this one, and I think we showed it defensively there in the third quarter. We competed. Everyone was out there playing hard. If we play hard and compete on the boards and on defense, I like our chances.”