Pending the transition to Mavericks/Blazers was made immediately following the Ohio State/Michigan State title game, you tuned in at the absolute perfect time. A flurry of big baskets from Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and picture-perfect Dirk Nowitzki one-leg fadeaways defined the final two minutes including a Lillard double-clutch three over Shawn Marion to tie the game at 106 with 1.9 seconds left.
With everyone in (and out) the building expecting the rock to go to Dirk – myself included – Monta Ellis came off a DaJuan Blair pick that freed him up just enough to curl around for the game-winning jumper a foot inside the three point line. Dirk remains the unquestioned leader and finished with a team-high 28 points, six rebounds and seven assists, but ask any Mavericks fan this, especially TSS extended family Willie P. and Jay Greene. They’re both grown men, and I’d never put words in their mouth – well, on their keyboard – but coming from someone who still has “the sadz” whenever the 2011 Finals topic arises, I’ve got to call a spade a spade.
Monta Ellis in a Mavericks uniform has quietly been one of the best pickups of the year. Of course, he comes with his own set of Monta frustrations, but the guy has fit in beautifully alongside Jose Calderon in the backcourt and riding shotgun with Dirk in the scoring department. Seriously people, Monta’s averaging 21.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.6 steals on 47.2% FG, 38.0% 3PT and 84.4% from the charity stripe.
Those last three percentages are all career highs, by the way. Through the first-fourth of the season, the Mavericks are 13-8, good for sixth in the West. That’d be third in the Eastern Conference, but whatever.
Meanwhile, a little further east (but still out west), the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks traveled to Colorado to take on a suprisingly “impossible-to-beat-at-home” Buffaloes squad. And if you’re Kansas, shooting 52.9% from the field as a team had having Andrew Wiggins post 22 points and five rebounds on 7-11 shooting seems like a recipe for re-entering the top five following Michigan State’s loss earlier this week.
Kansas could never put together a run putting Colorado away. Instead, it was Bill Self’s squad who played from behind a good chunk of the game – the Buffaloes shot 17 more free throws. With a Perry Ellis basket to tie the game at 72 in the closing seconds, that’s when the miracle happened. Asika Booker nailed a prayer of a three at the buzzer giving him 15 for the game, but more importantly Colorado the 75-72 victory.
“Unless I’m in the NBA championship, that’s the only thing that could top that,” Booker said.
Good for that kid. The victory marked the school’s first in 20 tries against their former Big 12 rival. Kansas drops to 6-2 while the Buffaloes improve to 9-1 (7-0 at home) and more than likely a Top 25 ranking once the new polls are released.
* – Update: Ellis’ career-high is 53.1% in the 2007-2008 season, his third year in the league. It is, however, his highest percentage since then.