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Ellis’ gamble pays off as Mavs edge Bulls in OT

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Updated 12 months ago on
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CHICAGO — It was a decision that could have cost the Dallas Mavericks the game, but worked out pretty well for guard Monta Ellis.

Trailing 106-103 with 4.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls, Ellis opted to take an open lane to the basket for a layup rather than try a 3-pointer that could have tied a game Dallas ultimately won 132-129 in two overtimes at the United Center.

It turned out to be a solid decision thanks to an ill-timed foul by Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, who grabbed Ellis with 1.2 seconds left as he leapt to attempt a game-tying three. Three foul shots later, the game was headed to overtime tied at 108.

“I didn’t know if I should take the three or take the two (on the earlier play),” said Ellis, who led all scorers with a season-high 38 points on a season-high 35 shots. “I didn’t want to force it, so it worked out for the best.”

Two overtimes were needed for that to happen.

The Mavericks (14-5) blew their own three-point margin at the end of the first OT on a long 3-pointer by Chicago guard Derrick Rose that just barely beat the buzzer, forcing the second overtime that Ellis dominated.

Ellis hit all three shots he took in the second OT, including a long 3-pointer with 39.9 seconds left to put Dallas in front for good, 130-129.

“I was just taking what the defense was giving me the whole night,” Ellis said. “Some went in and some didn’t, but they went in when they needed to.”

It was the fourth win in a row and eighth in the past 10 games for the Mavericks, who had five players score in double figures.

Veteran forward Dirk Nowitzki, whose was limited much of the game by tightness in his back, finished with 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Dallas forward Chandler Parsons scored 24 points and guard Devin Harris added 20, including 6-of-6 shooting from behind the 3-point line.

Forward Pau Gasol led the Bulls with 29 points and 14 rebounds, recording his 10th double-double of the season in a whopping 50:09 of action. Guard Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, forward Mike Dunleavy had 20 points, and Rose added 18 points and 10 assists in Chicago’s first home game since losing Nov. 15 to the Indiana Pacers.

The Bulls, who battled back from a 12-point halftime deficit, saw their record drop to 2-4 on their home floor. Afterward, the first thing they were asked about was Hinrich’s decision to foul Ellis with a three-point lead.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said he wasn’t clear enough about when and where to foul, but Hinrich shouldered most of the blame.

“I waited too long and I messed it up,” he said. “It was a bonehead play. I know better than that. It was a bad decision. I have been in the league 13 years. It’s just a bad play. You can’t do that against a good team like that. I will just have to learn from it.”

Even Nowitzki was stunned.

“It’s emotional either way,” he said. “They think they had the game won and they foul Monta off the dribble, which in my 17 years is one of dumber fouls I’ve ever seen. You wait all the way until he dribbles to the 3-point line to grab him, so that’s obviously a tough one, a tough play. I saw coach Thibodeau was just shaking his head. They thought they had it won in regular time and we thought in the first overtime we had ’em.”

Ellis made sure the Mavericks did get the Bulls in the second OT, keeping Dallas perfect when scoring more than 100 points (14-0). Dallas concludes its season-long four-game road trip Wednesday at the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Bulls finish their back-to-back set at the Charlotte Hornets.

“I am disappointed about the loss, but we have another game (Wednesday), so we can forget about this one,” Rose said. “Shots like that (at the end of the first OT), I’m supposed to make. I know how good I am, and how well I will play down the road.”

NOTES: Bulls rookie F Doug McDermott did not participate in the morning shoot-around and didn’t play because of swelling and soreness in his right knee. McDermott, who called it a “very minor” issue, said the knee started to swell Sunday upon returning from the team’s 102-84 victory at the Brooklyn Nets. … Chicago also played without F Taj Gibson, who missed his fifth straight game with a left ankle injury. … Mavericks G Raymond Felton was inactive again as the result of a right ankle sprain and hasn’t played yet this season. … Dallas G Devin Harris was a late scratch from the starting lineup. Jameer Nelson, who missed the three previous games with a back injury, started in his place. … The Mavericks are 0-5 when scoring less than 100 points.

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