The Dallas Mavericks already boast an elite offense, bolstered by one of the league’s top fourth-quarter scorers. They could be even more formidable with a new inside threat.
Dallas hopes Amare Stoudemire can provide a boost again Tuesday night when it hosts the Toronto Raptors.
The Mavericks (38-20) have won eight of 11 and Monta Ellis seemed to right himself in Sunday’s 92-81 win over Charlotte, recording 23 points after totaling 26 in his previous four games. He scored 15 in the final seven minutes and ranks sixth in the league since Nov. 28 with 6.3 fourth-quarter points per game.
"He’s our closer," Dirk Nowitzki said of Ellis.
Dallas has struggled at times to get consistent production in the paint. Tyson Chandler’s 7.8 points in the paint per game ranks outside the top 30 and the team gets 39.8 percent of its points in the paint, which ranks 24th. The Mavericks are sixth in the league with 27.1 percent of their scoring coming on 3-pointers.
Stoudemire, who was signed over the All-Star break, scored 14, including 10 in the paint, in 11 minutes of work as Chandler’s backup against the Hornets. He averages 8.3 points in the paint.
"I thought (Stoudemire) gave us exactly what we thought he would give us, and that’s some scoring off the bench and some catching and finishing in the paint," Nowitzki told the team’s official website. "He’s got a nice little touch from 16 and 17 feet, and he’s still a big body and a good rebounder."
Dallas was limited to 36 points in the paint at Toronto on Nov. 28, though Ellis scored 15 of his 30 in the fourth quarter in a 106-102 victory. He has averaged 24.2 points over his last 12 meetings.
Toronto (37-19) is in danger of losing three straight for the second time this season after averaging 86.5 points while shooting 37.3 percent in its last two games, including a 9-of-41 mark from 3-point range. The Raptors recorded 25 assists compared to 33 turnovers in those contests.
They squandered an 18-point lead in Monday’s 100-97 loss at New Orleans, which played without two of its top four scorers in Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson.
Kyle Lowry scored 22 but was 1 of 6 from deep after missing all seven attempts from beyond the arc in Saturday’s loss at Houston. He also had a go-ahead layup attempt blocked with seven seconds left and missed a 27-footer at the buzzer against the Pelicans.
"We should have had that one,” said DeMar DeRozan, who scored 14 on 6-of-15 shooting. "It’s frustrating … We settled for too many jump shots and didn’t press the issue."
The Raptors fell to 10-15 when shooting worse than 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.
"We got 3-point happy a little bit," coach Dwane Casey said. "We have to take it to the basket. … Some nights, 3s aren’t falling. That’s when you drive it."
Lou Williams, who didn’t play against the Rockets due to a sprained ankle, was 1 for 8 for nine points after scoring 53 over his previous two contests.
Dallas’ Chandler Parsons is expected to miss at least two more games with a sprained left ankle. Richard Jefferson had 10 points and 10 rebounds while starting in his place versus Charlotte.