Ellis enters break on high note

February, 13, 2009
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: 37 points, 8 rebounds, two 3-pointers against the Celtics.
Rajon Rondo, Celtics: 19 points, 15 rebounds, 14 assists versus Dallas.
Brandon Roy, Trail Blazers: 37 points (14-21 FG), three 3-pointers, two steals against Golden State.
Kelenna Azubuike, Warriors: 6 points (1-6 FG) in 25 minutes against the Blazers.
Luol Deng, Bulls: 6 points, 3 rebounds versus Miami.
Kendrick Perkins, Celtics: 0 points, 9 rebounds, a block, 4 turnovers in 26 minutes against the Mavericks.
Those that are still waiting for Monta Ellis to shake off the rust were happy to see him enter All-Star weekend on a high note with 20 points while adding three steals and a 3-pointer on Thursday night. Ellis has had a few bumps in the road while working his way back into game shape after a serious ankle injury. Clearly, his conditioning isn't where it needs to be yet, and while he has shown glimpses of the explosiveness that made him a 20-point-per-game scorer last season, he hasn't been able to bring that level of intensity for a full game. It's tough to knock down jumpers when your legs aren't underneath you and that's exactly why he's shooting just 38 percent from the floor since returning to the court. But if Thursday was any indication, Ellis could finally be getting back into game shape. He saw a season-high 44 minutes in the victory over the Blazers, but the best news of the night was that he got better as the game progressed, scoring a few key buckets late in the contest. With Monta getting his game legs back, look for him to come out of the gates on fire in the second half, as he'll get some much-needed rest during All-Star weekend.

Under the boards

Ben Gordon's 34-point effort wasn't enough to hold off Dwyane Wade and the Heat on Thursday night, when a late dunk by Shawn Marion sealed the deal for Miami. Gordon didn't get much help from teammate Luol Deng (6 points, 3 rebounds), as he struggled to get anything going on the offensive end. … Tyrus Thomas continued his solid play with 15 points, eight rebounds, a steal and two blocks in the loss. He's been uncharacteristically consistent as of late and should be owned in all fantasy formats at the moment. Still, one has to wonder if the inconsistency will reappear sometime soon. … Perhaps motivated by a matchup with Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley went off for 21 points, seven rebounds, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer. If Beasley could only bring that type of effort to the court every night. … Greg Oden managed to score eight points while grabbing 11 rebounds, despite playing just 18 minutes in Portland's loss to the Golden State Warriors. Foul trouble was the culprit again for Oden, and as much as I wish I could be optimistic about Oden's prospects for the second half, I just can't due to his constant foul trouble. … With Monta Ellis hot, it was Jamal Crawford's stats that suffered the most, as he took just nine shots from the floor and finished with 12 points. It won't always be Crawford who suffers when Ellis is hot, but owners should be aware that there is not enough rock for Ellis, Crawford, Corey Maggette and Stephen Jackson to share once Ellis is back to form. … Ronny Turiaf continued his stellar play with Andris Biedrins out of the lineup with 14 points, 11 rebounds and a block in the victory against the Blazers. Keep Turiaf in mind if Biedrins' ankle injury lingers after the break.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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