When Damian Lillard’s 3-pointer went through the net to tie the game between the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers at 106-106 a piece with 1 second remaining, it was a good bet that his effort would go down as the single biggest play of the night in Portland.
Then, Monta Ellis quickly made everyone forget Lillard’s effort.
After a timeout by the Mavs to regroup after blowing a late, 6-point lead, Ellis caught the inbounds pass from Jose Calderon, and knocked down a game-winning, buzzer-beating jump shot from 21 feet that gave Dallas a 108-106 victory. The shot capped what was an amazingly entertaining 4th quarter, but it also was a fitting end to yet another strong night from Ellis.
The former Golden State and Milwaukee gunner has been (slightly) reformed this season, shooting over 47% from the field and posting a career-best 5.8 assists per game. That play continued here, when he finished with 22 points (on 9 of 18 shooting) and 4 assists in 39 minutes, and even though this one will be chiefly remembered for the game-winner, he played very well.
Ellis wasn’t the leading scorer for the Mavs here, however, as Dirk Nowitzki had it going for large stretches. Dirk finished with 28 points (12 of 22 shooting), 7 assists, and 6 rebounds on the night, and it certainly seemed as if he had been teleported back to his “prime” at times. Their dueling excellence led to an awesome offensive performance from the Mavs as a whole, as the team shot 53% from the field and 50% from 3 in route to the win.
On the Portland side, the usual suspects were on display. The aforementioned Lillard was absolutely electric in the 4th quarter to lead Portland back from what seemed like a dead situation. He scored 13 in the final frame (including the game-tying triple), and that capped a 32-point, 5-assist night for the young point guard. Alongside him, budding MVP candidate LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Robin Lopez also added a double-double with 14 points and 14 boards.
It would be tempting to make a grand takeaway from Portland’s home loss, but at 17-4 on the season, there is little reason to panic in Rip City. Losing to a quality Dallas team is never a crime, and with the way that this one went down, it’s hard to do anything but praise both clubs for a job well done.