"I told (guard Jose) Calderon to give me the ball, I'm ready for it," the Dallas guard said of his game-winning shot, a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer in a 108-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night at the Moda Center.
"I was born for it," Ellis said of the game-winning situation. "I love that time of the game. I've hit a couple of game-winners in my career. At that point of the guy, you always like to have that confidence to take the last shot, and I got it."
Lillard sank four 3-point shots in the final 4:16 to keep the Trail Blazers within striking distance. The 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year knocked down a 3-pointer to cut Dallas' lead to 94-91 with 4:15 remaining, then drained another one from long distance to tie it at 94 with 3:58 to go. Nowitzki stemmed the tide with a pair of baskets at the other end, but PORTLAND answered with four straight points, and it was 98-all with 2:29 left.
Nowitzki followed with a three-point play with 2:12 on the clock, but Portland forward Nicolas Batum's jumper cut the Dallas lead to one point with two minutes remaining. Ellis' 3-pointer upped the margin to 104-100 with 1:36 to play. When Nowitzki hit another step-back, Dallas' lead was 106-100 with 45.5 seconds remaining.
Batum cut the lead in half with a 3 with 37 seconds to go. Ellis -- who finished with 22 points -- missed a runner and PORTLAND rebounded, but guard Mo Williams missed a 3-point attempt with 11 seconds to left. After a timeout, Ellis was surrounded at midcourt and the ball went out of bounds. Officials ruled it Dallas ball, but after a video review, the Blazers were given possession with 6.8 seconds remaining.
After another timeout, PORTLAND inbounded to forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who passed out to Lillard, who sank a double-clutch 3-pointer over Dallas forward Shawn Marion with 1.9 seconds left to tie the game at 106.
"I knew I would get a good look," said Lillard, who matched his season high. "We had run a play similar to that in earlier games, and we came off open every time. Marion knew I was trying to raise up, so I knew he'd jump. I head-faked him and he didn't jump as far up as I thought he would, so I jumped to the side. The shot went in."
That set up Ellis' game-winner.
"We shouldn't have been in that situation," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "But when you get in that situation, you have to get the ball to (either Ellis or Nowitzki). Jose threw a great pass, Monta made a great shot and we get out of here alive."
Dallas jumped to an 11-4 lead in the game's first three minutes and was still ahead 15-8 midway through the first quarter. PORTLAND reeled the Mavericks in, though, and took a 30-28 advantage into the second quarter.
NOTES: PORTLAND F LaMarcus Aldridge collected 19 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season. PORTLAND C Robin Lopez had 14 points and 14 rebounds for his eighth double-double and tied a career high with eight offensive boards. ... The loss ended the Blazers' eight-game home win streak. ... PORTLAND entered the game 5-0 this season playing the second of back-to-back games. The Blazers clobbered Utah 130-98 Friday night. ... When the PORTLAND job was open after the 2011-12 season, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle lobbied hard for his chief assistant, Terry Stotts. Stotts is now in his second season at the position, and the Blazers took a Western Conference-best 17-3 record into the game. "Terry is so deserving of this opportunity," Carlisle said. "He has done more with it than I could possibly imagine anybody doing. The success (the Blazers) are having has a lot to do with how he has approached it. He has completely transformed the vibe here. It's now a high-energy, entertaining, skilled team -- right now, the best in the West. I couldn't be happier for him."