3 Games That Made #WE2LA Happen

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
by Joe Beguiristain

Fresh off the best campaign of his career in 2016-17, Wayne Ellington wasn’t satisfied heading into the offseason. Rather, he continued to put in the work and did everything he could to improve as a player.

He also laid out some goals for himself in late July:

“For myself this season, I want to shoot my best percentage from the three career-wise. I want to obviously make more 3-pointers than I did last year and take that up a notch. I want to win the three-point contest. And just continue to build, continue to get better and continue to evolve as a player.”

Talk about foreshadowing.

In addition to tallying career highs in points per game (11.2) and effective field goal percentage (58.4) so far this season, Ellington has already knocked down the most threes he’s ever had (153). He also set a franchise record with nine games with six or more treys this year.

Now, the former UNC Tar Heel will have a chance to accomplish another one of his goals in the three-point contest, as the NBA announced Thursday night that Ellington would take part in the festivities against Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Kyle Lowry, Tobias Harris and defending-champion Eric Gordon.

With the contest a little over two weeks away, let’s take a look at three games that made #WE2LA happen.

Oct. 23 vs. Hawks: 104-93 Win

Ellington vs. Hawks

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon

Entering this game with Atlanta, Ellington had been struggling with his shot.

Then the second quarter came around.

In the period, ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’ scored 19 points and tied a HEAT record with six treys.

When it was all said and done, Ellington had 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting, two boards, two assists and a team-high plus-15 rating.

“My teammates did an unbelievable job of setting screens for me, getting me open and finding me, so all I had to do was my job, which is to knock down the open look,” Ellington said.

Dec. 22 vs. Mavericks: 113-101 Win

Ellington vs. Mavericks

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon

This was a special night for Ellington, as he tied a career high with 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting and set a career high with eight made triples to go along with three boards. Simply put, he was on fire.

That really showed in the fourth quarter when the swingman shut the door on Dallas with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the period.

Pure gold.

“You know, obviously everybody’s play was going to have to elevate, and I definitely took it upon myself as well to have to elevate my game,” Ellington said about making up for Dion Waiters’ absence for most of the contest. “I just got a little more aggressive with my shots, and [my] teammates did a great job of setting screens for me and getting me open and finding me.”

Jan. 20 vs. Hornets: 106-105 Win

Ellington vs. Hornets

Photo Credit: Brock Williams-Smith

While most people will remember James Johnson’s five-point sequence in less than five seconds from this game, Miami wouldn’t have been in a position to win it late without Ellington.

Even with Charlotte’s best perimeter defender in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on him more often than not, Ellington still led the HEAT with 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting and six made 3-pointers. He also added three assists and a steal for good measure.

“Coach said a little something to me this morning when we were doing our walkthrough, so I just, you know, stored that in my mind and wanted to come out and be aggressive,” Ellington said after the game. “Like I always say, man, my teammates help me, man. With my job, I can’t do it without my guys setting screens for me and getting me open. But yeah, my mindset was to be a little more aggressive tonight, especially with Goran down.”