Dallas is ready to test its 'grit level'... The Wizards in town and the Mavs have their stopwatches…
A Ball-Bustin' Season-Starter In Mavs Donuts
DONUT 1: Happy Anniversary to the AAC ...
Before we get into the game, a moment to recognize a little history. Wednesday night was not only opening night for the Mavericks' 2013-2014 season. It also marked the 12-year anniversary of the first game ever played in the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Detroit Pistons 94-87 on October 30th, 2001 in a game, which featured a 34-point effort by Michael Finley and also saw Jerry Stackhouse scoring 27 points for the Pistons.
The coach for the other team that night? Rick Carlisle.
Owner Mark Cuban has taken the organization a long way since that night 12 years ago, but prior to the game he was a little more concerned with the present.
"(That night) was so memorable that I forgot it until you told me," Cuban said.
And now to the Dallas Mavericks of present, with newness that starts with even the warmups ...
DONUT 2: An offensive juggernaut? ...
The Mavs looked like an offensive juggernaut at the beginning and at the end, like a team with close-out ability in this 118-109 victory over the Hawks.
The difference-maker? Monta Ellis, who scored 32 points and recorded eight assists - an effort that ranks as one of the greatest debuts in franchise history.
The last time a Dallas guard put up those sort of numbers in any game? That was Jason Terry, circa 2010. The last time a Mav performed this well statistically in an opener? That was Dirk, who scored 34 to begin the 2009 season.
"Monta is sensational in pick-n-rolls looking aggressively to score, or if he doesn't have it, finding open shooters,'' said Nowitzki. "And that's fantastic."
Said Monta: "I'm grateful to have (Dirk), have somebody who can take the pressure off me. .. We've just got to work off each other."
Nowitzki was fantastic enough as well, with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Vince Carter came off the bench to score 21 on 9-of-16 shooting. Shawn Marion chipped in with 12 points and eight boards.
The Mavs opened impressively as Ellis and Nowitzki combined to score 14 of the Mavs' first 16 points. Dallas went on a key 12-0 run in the third. But maybe most important of all as the Mavs try to put last year's 41-41 finish behind them: Dallas asserted itself most of all to close the game, led by the quarterbacking of Jose Calderon and his 11 assists. Calderon hit a 3-pointer late -- one of seven Mavs makes from the arc. In that same final period, Nowitzki hit two in a row and Ellis canned one as well for a 118-102 lead with 1:18 remaining.
In the fourth quarter, Nowitzki and Ellis combined for 5-of-8 shooting (and 4-of-4 from the arc) for 16 points.
In total, Dallas shot 57.1 percent from the floor, totaled 31 assists and kept its foot on the accelerator to seal the win. Maybe the biggest mop-up issues come in two areas. Ellis did have seven of turnovers, causing coach Rick Carlisle to say, "He's just got to be a little more disciplined. ... I don't think he's ever played with a team like this."
And what is this team?
For the moment, at 1-0, a club that knows how to open and how to close.
DONUT 3: Simple terms ...
In the simplest terms possible, the Mavs brought in Jose Calderon to distribute the ball, Monta Ellis to score the ball and Samuel Dalembert to rebound the ball. All three started the season opener and will likely start the majority of the games this season. How did they do in their new roles?
*Well, as noted above, Ellis scored the ball. He finished with 32 points to go along with eight assists and four rebounds. Oh, and those 32 points are most ever by a player making his Mavs debut.
"The second half (Ellis) really did a great job of distributing, scoring, attacking and made big free throws in critical parts of the game," Carlisle said of Ellis. "He played a terrific game."
*Calderon distributed the ball. He finished with 11 assists.
*Dalembert rebounded the ball. He finished with nine rebounds and after the game was actually dissatisfied with that number, claiming that he was upset with himself for missing out on rebounds he felt were within his reach.
"With nine new guys on our team it's never easy,'' Dirk said. "And we're missing some key pieces ... The guys that do go in there have got to hold it down and play well off of each other and we've got to get better defensively and with Sammy anchoring it in there and we've got to get some more stops."
Defense is a separate issue altogether. But in terms of key pieces of this new puzzle fitting together -- again, in simple terms -- Wednesday was a major success.
"Listen,'' Dirk said, "the home opener is always tough. We'll take the win and move on."
DONUT 4: The Rise And Fall of Gersson Rosas ...
Mark Cuban addressed the quickie divorce with general manager Gersson Rosas just three months on the job largely by dismissing the importance of it all.
"He kind of had the opportunity to stay 90 days, see what happened," Cuban said. "He made his choice. I wish him the best. He's a good guy."
Cuban seems to be suggesting the whole thing was a "trial run,'' which of course doesn't quite jive with the original intention. It also seems odd that the organization is now saying Rosas' old position is unlikely to be filled by a new hire; isn't that like putting a new tire on your car, removing it upon realizing it's the wrong size (which is fine) ... but then deciding to drive forward on three wheels?
Cuban is absolutely telling the truth when he said, "I'm not big on titles. That was the title he wanted. I pretty much let people pick their title."
Rosas had the title. But he tried to flex muscles he did not have, as we detail here in "The Rise And Fall of Gersson Rosas.''
DONUT 5: The Finest Dentists in North Texas! ...
Our neighborhood dentists, even though we don't even live in the McKinney neighborhood? It's McKinneyDentist.com, and it's been the case for Nate, Tony and me for my kids' entire lifetime.
At McKinneyDentist.com, Dr. Berlin, Dr. Markham, Dr. Lynch and Dr. Wood have been providing the finest in everything from technology to chair-side manner for years, to my family and to so many of you. Their great work has part of us bringing our Mavs coverage to you since 1995 ... And we're proud to be associated with The Finest Dentists in North Texas ... McKinneyDentist.com!
DONUT 6: Join DB.com Boards! ...
Membership is free and the discussions are hot!
We invite you to be part of the Mavs conversation on the best discussion forum in the NBA, The DB.com Boards! We're in our 14th season of slicing and dicing Mavs issues ... and more!
Among the issues being kicked around today: A DB.com tradition after wins as Mavs fans vote on Who Deserves "The Dirkie''!
DONUT 7: The Vince Carter Sixth Man of the Year Campaign ...
It says here Vince Carter should have been a legitimate candidate for Sixth Man of the Year last season. Knicks guard J.R. Smith deserved the award, but Carter was largely left out of the conversation despite a great season off the bench.
But this season the Mavs have their sights on the playoffs and Carter has a role securely locked in as the scorer off the bench. Carter delivered in the season opener. He scored 21 points to go along with four rebounds in 25 minutes of play. ... and his momentum-grabbing dunk keyed a 12-0 third-quarter run.
If he can continue to deliver production like that off the bench (and the Mavs can make a run at the postseason) expect the 15-year veteran to get serious consideration for the regular season honor of Sixth Man of the Year.
At least that what it says here.
DONUT 8: Stat of the Night ...
Samuel Dalembert and Dejuan Blair: 14 rebounds
Al Horford and Paul Millsap: 10 rebounds
That may not seem all that significant upon first glance, but with a frontcourt combo of Millsap and Horford, rebounding would figure to be a huge strength for the Hawks this season. Both players have earned reputations as tenacious rebounders. Meanwhile, some (us!) might have figured rebounding to be a weakness for the Mavericks.
The two new members of the Mavericks' front court more than held their own against one of the tougher challenges they'll face on the boards. Dallas felt like it knew what it had in Sammy. But DeJuan?
"We really needed somebody to rise up at the backup center position and lay claim to it," Carlisle said. "This is by far the best he has played."
DONUT 9: Follow the Mavs on Twitter ...
Follow our Mavs coverage on Twitter, where our live coverage of preseason will unfold all day and every day! Mike Fisher, Jonny Auping , David Lord and Michael Dugat keep you up-to-the-minute informed on all things Mavs!
DONUT 10: Oh, those steaks and burgers!
Thanks to Dee and the incredible staff at Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar for our incredible Mavs pregame dinners ... the legendary DFW restaurateur has done it again.
Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar is becoming THE "upscale casual'' place to dine before you attend events in Dallas ... And the gang from DB.com looks forward to seeing you there!
DONUT 11: The NBA video package ...
DONUT 12: Gal Mekel/Arvydas Sabonis Comparisons? ...
Gal Makel made his NBA debut Wednesday night having played a number of high-stakes games professionally in Israel.
Did Carlisle compare Mekel to Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis before the game? Not exactly. But Carlisle did get to know Sabonis in his time as an assistant coach in Portland. Carlise claimed that Sabonis, who was already a basketball legend in Europe before coming to the NBA, was "the most nervous he'd ever been" prior to his NBA debut.
Perhaps, Mekel suffered from the same nerves. He debuted with two points, two rebounds, three assists and two turnovers in nine minutes of play. That being said, after the game Carlisle was not disappointed in his performance.
"He went in there and battled his ass off," Carlisle said of Mekel. "That's all we can ask of him."
DONUT 13: The Final Word ...
We think Mavs fans found themselves entertained Wednesday by the scoring, by the promise, and by whatever the hell this was playing on the jumbotron:
And we come away with the satisfaction of knowing that Rick Carlisle believes the win to be an accomplishment worth kinda-swearing over.
"That,'' Rick said, "was a ball-buster game.''