Originally posted on Fox Sports North
By ASSOCIATED PRESS  |  Last updated 11/8/13
Dirk Nowitzki has been content in allowing Monta Ellis toflourish as the Dallas Mavericks' leading scorer through the first five gamesof the season.The veteran forward, though, hasn't completely stepped intothe background and may need to assert himself against another of the NBA's bestbig men Friday night when the Mavs visit Kevin Love and the MinnesotaTimberwolves.While Ellis has added an explosive element to the Dallasoffense that was missing since the Steve Nash era, Nowitzki has also been solidwith 19.4 points per game while hitting 10 of his 19 3-point attempts.Ellis is averaging 24.0 points during a 3-2 start forDallas, which has been led in scoring by Nowitzki for 13 straight seasons. Thelast player other than the big German to lead the Mavs in scoring was MichaelFinley in 1999-2000 - Nowitzki's second season in the league.The steady play of Ellis, Shawn Marion (13.6 ppg) and JaeCrowder (10.6 ppg) has certainly eased the scoring burden on the 35-year-oldNowitzki after a 2012-13 season in which he missed the first 27 games followingknee surgery.Signed to a three-year deal in July, Ellis' attacking stylehas been paying off. He's shooting 51.9 percent from the field and has had twogames with at least 30 points and eight assists - both victories."I think being aggressive opened everything up for usas a team," Ellis told the NBA's official website. "I've just got tocontinue to attack and make the right plays."Ellis had 20 points in a 107-93 loss at Oklahoma City onWednesday in the second game of a back-to-back. His aggressive play, however,did result in seven of the team's 21 turnovers, which led to 23 points for theThunder."I mean, 23 points off turnovers on the road is goingto be really hard to overcome," coach Rick Carlisle said after his teamdropped the opener of a three-game trip. "And then we got beat on theboards (44-36) and we just didn't play well enough. It's a disappointing night,but we've got to get ready for the next one."Crowder and Marion added 17 points each, while Nowitzkifinished with 16.Ellis and Nowitzki may need to keep the offense clickingagainst the Timberwolves (3-2), who were explosive during a 3-0 start beforefalling off a bit in the last two games.Minnesota averaged 109.6 points in victories over Orlando,Oklahoma City and New York before dropping to 92.5 during its two-game skid.Love, who missed most of last season with a broken hand, hasbeen dominant through five games, averaging 26.2 points and 11.0 rebounds whilealso earning Western Conference player of the week honors along the way.The Wolves' recent sluggish play has coincided with a minorslump for point guard Ricky Rubio, who had at least 10 assists in the openingthree victories before averaging just six in the two losses.Love had 25 points, 16 rebounds and six assists in a 106-93loss to Golden State on Wednesday. Kevin Martin added 23 points for Minnesota,which shot 37.8 percent and turned the ball over 19 times. Rubio had seven pointson 2-for-8 shooting with four turnovers."We have to find a way to keep things going and be moreproductive," said coach Rick Adelman.The series has been relatively even over the last fewseasons, with the Wolves winning four of the last seven after dropping 18 ofthe previous 19.
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