Thursday, April 17, 2014
Monta Ellis' clutch spree ends with a miss
By Tim MacMahon
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The play that worked to perfection in Portland, Ore., got Monta Ellis another great look at a potential game-winning buzzer-beater.
This time, however, the home team celebrated once the buzzer sounded.
Ellis missed a wide-open 18-footer in the final second of overtime, landing the Dallas Mavericks in the West's 8-seed after a 106-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Mavs ran the same play as they did when Ellis drilled a buzzer-beater to beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 7, just from the opposite sideline.
Once again, Ellis came off a pick and got wide open in the middle of the floor. It was the shot the Mavs wanted by the hot hand they hoped could win the game for them after Ellis had drilled a clutch 3 to tie it with 13 seconds remaining in regulation, then scored seven points in the extra frame.
"It was a great shot," Ellis said. "It just didn’t go down."
That came as quite a surprise to Ellis, who never lacks for confidence. That was quite clear by the way he knocked down that 3 from the right wing to tie it up late in regulation.
Up to that point, Ellis had a horrible shooting night, missing 11 of his first 15 field goal attempts. But a short-term memory is required for any player who embraces the responsibility of taking clutch shots.
That description definitely fits Ellis, whose 151 clutch points (defined as coming in the final five minutes, score within five points) ranked behind only MVP front-runner Kevin Durant and LeBron James this season.
"Hey, he’s an attacker," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I encourage all our guys to stay process-oriented, stay aggressive, step into shots that are there. He had a lot of good shots that were near-misses that were just in and out. The last one’s a great example."
After Ellis drilled the tying 3 late in regulation, he got hot in overtime, taking over the game for a stretch to help the Mavs build a four-point lead. Within a span of 109 seconds, Ellis hit a long 2, another 3 from the right wing and a driving layup.
But Ellis missed his last two shots in the final seven seconds, much to the surprise of the Mavs, particularly on the wide-open buzzer-beater.
"The way he’d been shooting it, I really thought it was going to go in," Carlisle said. "He played with such courage in the fourth quarter. I doubt we’d be in the position we were in with a chance to win it if it hadn’t [been] for him. He’s just got to keep hoisting those up, because he’s going to make more than he misses."