Opening Tip: Mavs flash offensive potential

DALLAS -- That was a glimpse of how good this Mavericks offense can be.

It’s certainly an intriguing mix of skill and talent. Dirk Nowitzki remains one of the most unique offensive threats in the league, a 7-footer who is deadly from midrange and beyond. Monta Ellis is among the NBA’s best attackers. Jose Calderon is an outstanding orchestrator and shooter. Shawn Marion is a low-maintenance slasher. And Vince Carter still has a lot of game left in his 36-year-old legs.

“The defense has got to give us something,” said Calderon, who was only 1-of-7 from the floor but had 11 assists in his Dallas debut. “We’ve got a lot of weapons out there.”

The Mavs took a lot against the Atlanta defense, lighting it up for 57.1 percent shooting in the season-opening 118-109 win. Ellis (32 points, eight assists), Nowitzki (24 points) and Carter (21 points) did the bulk of the damage, but the beauty of the performance was in the ball movement.

Dallas had 31 assists in the opener, a total they matched or exceeded only five times last season, all in wins.

“It’s early,” Nowitzki said, “but that was definitely a fun night offensively.”

Can the Mavs build on it?

Calderon optimistically noted that there won’t be many nights when he commits four turnovers or knocks down only one shot. Nowitzki, who admits he’s a bit of a pessimist, notes that the Mavs can’t expect to shoot such a high percentage too often.

“I’d like to see on nights when are legs are a little bit tired how we respond, how we play, how we move with the ball,” Nowitzki said. “Sometimes I feel like when things are not going as well, that’s when you get stagnant and guys are doing too much one-on-one, trying to save the world. So that’s going to be the challenging thing, to keep moving the ball, keep trusting the system and keep playing off each other.”