Monta Ellis was put in the grave, his body covered in dirt with only his head remaining.
He emphatically climbed out of the plot on Tuesday night to show he can still have it all.
It was a hectic 24 hours after Dallas' 98-92 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. Not only did the Mavericks lose, but Ellis shot an abysmal 4-of-22 and Rick Carlisle claimed his team had no soul. The following day, reports and rumors start flying about the futures of almost every Maverick player, including Ellis.
Tuesday night's tilt against the Spurs was big on a multitude of levels. Along with the drama involving the Mavs, this was the first of a crucial home-and-home with the two rivals sixth and seventh in the Western Conference standings, respectively.
Not only was the chance to inch closer up the standings on the line for the Mavericks, but to see how they would respond after their coach made some questionable comments.
Dallas not only responded, but the Mavericks responded an emphatic way with quality defense, holding San Antonio 42 percent shooting. But an even more glaring number is that Dallas held the Spurs to just 8-of-28 from 3-point range, an area that has defeated the Mavericks in the past more times than none.
But it was Ellis that was the difference maker, making 16-of-27 shots to go along with five assists to give Dallas its 45th win on the year with 10 games to go.
It wasn't all a pretty game for the Mavs. They came out of the gates sluggish against a hot Spurs team, winners of three in a row including a convincing 114-95 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. Dallas shot 8-of-19 in the first 12 minutes, while San Antonio shot 52 percent and got eight points from Kawhi Leonard.
It was an unsurprising showcase of bad defense for the Mavs for the first 14 minutes, mostly by Amar'e Stoudemire looking lost defensively every time the Spurs passed the ball. San Antonio took a 36-22 lead with 9:37 left in the second quarter after Matt Bonner took proud papa Dirk Nowitzki (more on him later) off the dribble and made a running hook shot. It was shaping up to be that kind of night for the Mavs.
That's when Chandler Parsons and Ellis began to take over.
Two-thirds of Run DMC combined for 15 points in the second quarter and were the main catalysts that trimmed the once-insurmountable San Antonio lead to 46-43 heading into halftime.
The second half turned out to be the best display of defensive basketball the Mavs have played on the Spurs in what feels like forever. Not only was Dallas' defense in surprising lockdown mode, the offense caught fire and had a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 51 with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Dallas closed it on a 25-15 run and took a 76-66. San Antonio shot 38 percent.
Ellis scored 13 of his 38 points in the third quarter, but the real story of the third was Dirk shooting 4-of-5 and scoring eight of his 15 points in the third. It's a different feeling when those two aren't clicking offensively. When they're on, it's tough for any team to stop them, even the Spurs.
On the day his son Max was born, Dirk had a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double. He hasn't been relied upon to carry the scoring load as of late, but Dirk made some timely baskets when needed, including a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter after a terrific hustle play by Al-Farouq Aminu.
And also, Dirk reached 10,000 rebounds for his career tonight, becoming the seventh player to ever record 27,000 career points and 10,000 rebounds. It's been a good day for him.
Parsons also had a very good game, scoring 15 points, grabbing six rebounds to go along with four assists. He also did a great job keeping Leonard quiet in the second half, as last year's Finals MVP finished with a team-high 19 points on only 7-of-16 shooting.
Dallas' defense also did a great job containing San Antonio's big three. Tim Duncan only had six points in 24 minutes, Tony Parker shot 3-of-11 and Manu Ginobili scored only seven points in his return to the lineup after a sprained ankle.
It was definitely a win the Mavs needed after Sunday's collapse. Especially with everything that happened the last two days, Dallas responded emphatically and have now won two in a row against the Spurs, after having once lost 10 in a row in the regular season. In both of those wins, Monta has scored 38 points. Coincidence? Maybe.
We'll find out Friday when these two go at it once again, this time in the AT&T Center.