Ellis, Dirk Spoil Dwight’s Monster Night

VIDEO: Dirk and Monta Ellis run roughshod over the Rockets in comeback win

DALLAS — This was Dwight Howard‘s big night, a made-for-national-TV highlight reel. His coming-back party.

The big man couldn’t miss from the floor, flushing alley-oops at will and swooping through the lane for lefty hooks as if he invented it. He made his first 11 shots, not missing until three minutes deep into the fourth quarter. He was even on fire, as much as Howard can be on fire, from the free throw line.

With a big lead in tow, Howard was strutting toward a season-high, which he got with 33 points on 12-for-16 shooting, and a Hack-a-Dwight-defying 9-for-13 from the stripe. The Houston Rockets were headed for a road romp, a beat down of their division-rival Dallas Mavericks, losers in the Howard sweepstakes no matter how Mavs owner Mark Cuban has tried to spin it. Again prior to Wednesday’s game, Cuban couldn’t help himself, suggesting the best deals are sometimes the ones you don’t make, and that it’s way too early to determine whether Howard or the Mavs’ new guy, Monta Ellis, will ultimately be the most impactful free-agent addition.

Through three quarters, Ellis was putting on a show to be sure, but it was Dwight truly announcing his presence and taking names.

Until Ellis, the erratic shooting guard Cuban signed with his leftover free-agent cash, and the venerable all-timer, Dirk Nowitzki ended the party. The duo hijacked Dwight’s night with one of the great two-man performances of the season — and in recent memory — in a rousing 123-120 win, rallying all the way from 93-75 late in the third quarter when the capacity crowd actually started to file out.

The Nowitzki-Ellis tally is eye-popping: 72 points on 26-for-38 shooting. Ellis, playing with a chip on his shoulder the size of Howard’s bicep, went off for a season-high 37 points on 13-for-18 shooting and eight assists. Nowitzki poured in a season-best 35 points on 13-for-20 shooting, along the way overtaking Pacers Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. It was an all-time efficient two-man binge: 4-for-9 from beyond the arc, 16-for-19 from the free throw line, 12 assists and nine rebounds.

Yet it all seemed headed for footnote status on the highlight shows as Howard’s two-handed slams would play over and over.

In the fourth quarter it all ground to an inexplicable halt for Howard and Houston, which officially has a closing problem. It left coach Kevin McHale bleary eyed and exasperated.

Nowitzki and Ellis outscored the Rockets, 22-19 on 9-for-11 shooting. Heck, Nowitzki and Jose Calderon outscored them 21-19. Howard suddenly couldn’t buy a bucket, going 1-for-5 in the quarter, and he got stripped late by Nowitzki in the paint as everything fell apart. Harden missed shots and hopelessly chased foul calls. Chandler Parsons, 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and playing beautiful basketball with 11 assists through three quarters, didn’t take a 3 or dish a dime in the final 9:17 he played.

In the first three quarters, Houston scored 40, 28 and 33 points. Then poof. Again. Rockets fourth quarters are becoming as collapsible as a rickety lawn chair. One reason they’re now 8-5 and looking up in the standings at the surprising 8-4 Mavs.

“It’s growing pains,” Howard said afterward. “Something we have to learn from. We’re a young team. We’ve got to realize what we have in the locker room and what we can do as a team when we play the right way on both ends. We didn’t do that at the end of the game.”

While early season ogling has mostly been reserved for the Portland Trail Blazers’ 10-2 start, the Mavs now quietly boast the same record through a dozen games as the mighty Los Angeles Clippers and those lovable Golden State Warriors. They’re also 6-0 at home.

Ellis, devouring the doubts of his many skeptics and especially the analytic stat-crunchers, has been remarkably efficient playing alongside Nowitzki — 23.3 ppg on 49.5 percent shooting — who is happy as all get out to tag along for the ride after slogging through last season’s offensive quicksand. It’s not lost on anyone that Ellis has a better shooting percentage than Dirk.

“We’re really just playing off of him,” Nowitzki said of his newest sidekick. “He’s been aggressive, he’s handling the ball well, but what’s been great is that he has been making plays for others. He’s making all of us better. We run a lot of screen-and-rolls for him; I don’t know how he does it, but he gets everyone involved and it’s been fun to play with him.”

On a night Dwight dominated, the Mavs had the better twosome for the four full quarters. And it’s beginning to look like something the rest of the league better take note.

VIDEO: Nowitzki talks about passing Reggie Miller on the all-time scoring list


  1. sleeplessbull says:

    i still dont get one thing.. even if the Rockets had won.. why on earth is 32 from howard monster and the 35 and 37 from Dirk and Monta not?!? the tile is monster night from dirk and monta.. Howard lost the rockets lost! its about dallas… stop this misinformation rout e!! you are pathetic!!!!!

    • kriss says:

      wel Howard hit like 12 shots in a row, and was making freethrows, and played very well defensively aswell, so it was a very good game by him, but I have to agree with you, Dirk and monta was amazing, Dirk is 35 and still plays like an allstar. Monta is showing all the doubsters what he can do, Monta and dirk pick & roll best in the league by far.

  2. Ed Warner says:

    Monta is one of the most uderrated player of the league… simply beautifull to watch and with a lot of skills.
    (I’m a warriors fan…)

  3. Ed Warner says:

    Monta is one of a most underrated player in the league….
    I’m a warriors fan and I still miss him.

  4. aaron says:

    everyone always seemed to have forgotten dirk is an all time great cause of one unhealthy season last year he a jump shooter he still got a at least two good runs in him just need to make a tarde and their contenders again

  5. manny says:

    im a rockets fan but let me say what a game of basketball.from dirk,monta and howard having awsum games.theres nothing like a rivalry game coming down to the wire.while im dissapointed with the lose im glad to say it can only make our young team better.i could see negatives on both sides for both teams and to say any of these two teams cant win a championship is wrong.theres a long way too go yet and teams will only get better.good game mavs.ellis looks awsum and howard seems to be improving.cant wait for the next game

  6. GB says:

    Monta Ellis is an extremely underrated player. Back from his GSW days you knew he was going to be a star in this league. He just needed to be on the right team with the right personnel. Playing with the Bucks aint exactly a great situation to go too. Now that he is with a great team with great people around him i expected him to flourish but he is even surprising me by how great he is playing.

    I think if he keeps this up he will definitely be an allstar this year. And he is also currently in the top 3 SG’d in the NBA in my opinion and if he keeps it up he may just be better then DWade and JHarden come this season end

  7. Hunter says:

    Im just waiting for Devin Harris and Branden Wright to return and then see what this team is capable of.

  8. Sara says:

    What a great game…Dirk n Monta are better than i thought..and this team isn’t even completely healthy yet. wait till b wright and devin harris get healthy…kinda scary.one of the deepest teams in the league for sure.

  9. Phil says:

    Honestly, I think Monta Ellis is a MVP potential candidate. Some people may think it’s far fetch, but if you just look at how effective he is at playing teamball as well as being able to create his own shots, he’s definitely makes a big impact everyday. His defense may seem like an issue, but I consider his ability to get steals to cover that category. Overall, he’s the complete package and efficiently utilizes his abilities and size.

    • Game Time says:

      I never understood the criticism this guy gets. Personally I think he’s the 2nd best SG in the league as of right now.

  10. LAKERS says:

    Good to see Dwight and Harden getting along so great. LOL!!!!

  11. ism says:

    I always thought that, after 2011, what Dirk needed was a second reliable scoring option. Even with Chandler leaving, this was even more important than the defense which is also backed up by the numbers – the Mavs shrunk offensively more than defensively after the title. Well, what can I say. It seems I was at least a bit right and I really enjoy what I’m seeing.

  12. Boston fan says:

    Asik playing in Dallas??That could be a good sing

  13. Game Time says:

    Dallas will be back in the playoffs this year and will do some damage to whoever they face. Only thing they really need is a better center and I would say they have a title shot.

    • laker says:

      title shot..dont think so…monte was on fire but he will also shoot u out of alot of games….they need more than a center…..

      • Game Time says:

        No you’re talking about the Lakers and Kobe. Monta has been solid thus far, and has always been a great player in my eyes, but just uninspired to play night in an out until now.

  14. lakerslakerslakers says:

    waiting for howard to get mchale fired. and maybe parsons and harden traded. after all they are the problem right?

  15. Unkle Daddy says:

    I’m glad for Dirk and Monta. Dirk has a running mate again, and Ellis has the guidance he’s needed. Do I think they they’ll go far into the playoffs, no. But, with an added piece or a solid trade the could give some teams a fit in the first round. Bring back-(in) Adam Morrison “Fear the Stache!”

  16. laker says:

    great game indeed..d12 played great but that team aint going anywhere….d is pathetic…and d12 is the biggest crybaby(just like Vince Carter said..all he does is cries to the refs..hahahaha)

  17. Based on Stats says:

    Don’t see why Harden gets so much praise and guys like MELO, and Monta get so much criticism when Harden isn’t exactly a model for “efficiency”. He shoots a worse percentage then Melo and if Ellis shot more he’d average 25ppg like Harden. Anywho, im happy to see Monta finally having fun and being effective.

  18. Yo says:

    Haha, Harden tried to win the game with his awesome skills of flopping. Learn to be a man and take a proper shot.

  19. exiled says:

    Sure Dallas played hard at thier best, but houston were too confidante and became disfunctional , it is just anout time they become better

  20. Biggy says:

    Hell of a game. Monta Ellis is looking damn good in the D.