Wayne Ellington is relieved he doesn’t have to continue to try and keep the world’s worst kept secret under wraps anymore.
When coach Erik Spoelstra informed him last week he had earned an invite to participate in the NBA’s three-point contest in Los Angeles All-Star weekend Feb. 16-18, it came with a promise Ellington had to keep it secret until after TNT formally announced it on television Thursday night.
So each time Ellington was asked about an ESPN report he had been selected for the three-point contest, the 30-year-old veteran had to choose his words wisely.
“I just loved Wayne having to say every day ‘Well, if they choose me,’ ” Spoelstra said with a grin Friday at shootaround. “That explains Wayne’s character. You can count on that guy with your bank account. He didn’t tell anybody.”
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Said Ellington: “The world’s worst kept secret. I think everybody knew for some time now, so it wasn’t so exciting [when the announcement was made] last night. But it was obviously unbelievable news. Now, it’s good that I can confirm it with everybody that’s been asking me to talk about it a little bit more. But I’m excited to get back to Miami and get on those racks and get ready.”
Ellington, who won the three-point contest at the 2006 McDonald’s All-American game, is the seventh Heat player all-time invited to participate in the three-point contest – the last being Mario Chalmers in 2012. James Jones (2011), Daequan Cook (2009), Jason Kapono (2007) and Glen Rice (1995) all won the three-point contest when they played for the Heat.
Ellington said he’s planning to train in advance of the three-point contest for several days.
There is of course a distinct difference as far as what Ellington does in games versus participating in the three-point contest where balls are set up on racks. Most of the time, Ellington attempts three-pointers on the run coming off screens and bobbing and weaving his way through traffic.
Ellington is tied for second in the league in catch-and-shoot three-point makes (120) with George and third in catch-and-shoot attempts (289). That’s a percentage of 41.5 percent. He’s 32 of 86 on pull up shots (37.2 percent).
“I’m the type of guy, I’m detail oriented and I’m going to make sure I figure out what’s most comfortable for me and figure out a nice routine to get ready,” he said. “So I’ll be ready.”
Other participants in the contest include: defending champion Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets, 2016 champion Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City All-Star forward Paul George.
“They have some big time long range threats in there,” Ellington said. “That makes it all the better. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun, obviously. We’re going to enjoy ourselves, but it’s going to be competitive.”
Spoelstra said the NBA “should add a catch-and-shoot three-point contest” to All-Star weekend.
“Come off a screen 100 miles per hour and see how many guys can hang with Wayne in that type of competition,” Spoelstra said. “But he can spot up. He can do either one.”
▪ LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both said after Wednesday’s win over the Heat that the Cavaliers made it a point to zero in on stopping Ellington in the Heat’s offense. Ellington was held scoreless for the first time since Nov. 28 and took only four shots.
The Heat as a team, however, shot 35.8 percent on (19 of 53) on uncontested shots. So there were open looks for others Miami didn’t capitalize on.
“They really honed in on me, taking away some of my looks and some of my catch and shoots,” Ellington said. “Just being able to expand a little bit, expand my game a little bit and keep them honest [is how to respond]. Maybe get a few backdoor cuts, maybe a few backscreens to loosen up the defenders. Just little things that I want to do to be able to do to work to get myself open a little bit better and also mixing it up. Being able to get into the paint a little bit, make a play for myself or a teammate. That always opens it up.”
Ellington said the effort the Cavs made to stop him was “the ultimate respect.”
“But also at the same time, I got to be better as a player,” he added. “I can’t just let them take me away. Obviously, for our team, I want to be able to contribute even when that is their gameplan. I still got to be effective out there.”
SHOT CLOCK VIOLATORS
The NBA doesn’t officially track shot clock violations as a stat on its leaderboards, but Basketballminer.com says the Heat rank second in the league in 24-second shot clock violations per game (0.860 per game).
“That’s something we feel like we need to be a little bit more aware of,” Ellington said. “Obviously, it comes with also being too unselfish sometimes on the offensive end. Sometimes you can look at it as a good thing. But we do have to get a shot up. We have to be more aware of the clock winding down and where we are in the possession and get a good look.”
Ellington said teammates communicate and a keyword to each other when the clock is winding down. It just hasn’t worked often enough.
“I think it’s more we’re not getting off the ball fast enough,” James Johnson said of why he thinks shot clock violations keep happening. “We do pass the ball a lot, but I don’t think it’s the reason why we’re encountering these shot-clock violations.
“I think it’s more of an over-handle and then trying to get rid of it when it’s too late and then not being aware of the shot-clock. We’ve just got to trust each other more and make two-second holds. If you don’t have a move within that two seconds or if you don’t shoot in that two seconds, you better get off it.”