Milwaukee Bucks point guard Monta Ellis is a very frustrating player, an embarrassingly talented scorer who nevertheless tends to take bad shots and looks as if he was never taught (and/or never learned) proper defensive technique. However, he can also be one of the most exciting players to watch in all of basketball, someone with a flair for the flamboyant and dramatic.
On Wednesday night against the Rockets in Houston, Ellis pulled off one of the more thrilling buzzer-beaters we're likely to see this season. With the score tied at 107-107 and seconds left on the clock, Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings attempted to create an open shot on defender Jeremy Lin. Right as the clock hit 2.0 seconds, Jennings passed to Ellis several feet past the top of three-point line.
Ellis elevated pretty much immediately, shooting off one foot and with his body moving away from the basket. The ball went in, out, off the back of the rim, and finally back through the net to give the Bucks the 110-107 win.
The shot capped a wild final minute that included end-to-end athleticism from Bucks perpetual motion machine Larry Sanders and a very difficult lay-in by Rockets All-Star James Harden (both videos via EOB). Ellis's winner also put a nice bow on a poor 9-of-24 shooting night that netted 27 points.
Yet, while Ellis continues to be an inefficient scorer, he has stepped up the other parts of his game recently. In the Bucks' last three games, all of which have come after the team's deadline deal for J.J. Redick, Ellis has totaled 32 assists (13 on Wednesday night) against nine turnovers. He's also notched six steals in each of the last two games.
As Zach Lowe wrote for Grantland on Monday, Monta's inefficient shooting doesn't necessarily doom him to a career of putting up big scoring numbers on bad teams. In the right situation, he can be a valuable player. If he continues to work as a distributor and play any defense, he'll increase the likelihood of creating one of those positive environments.