Dallas' latest outing made it easy to see why, starting with a 62-point first half en route to a 107-90 victory over New Orleans on Friday night that sent the Pelicans to their fourth straight loss.
"That's when we're our best, when we attack and get some good shots out of it," said Nowitzki, who led Dallas with 24 points in only 28 minutes. "When we lose some games it's usually on the defensive side and on the rebounding side, so if we defend and rebound, I like our offense."
Monta Ellis added 23 points, Vince Carter 14 points and Jae Crowder 12 for Dallas, which never trailed. The Mavericks led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter before cruising against a Pelicans squad minus starting point guard Jrue Holiday and leading scorer Ryan Anderson.
The comfortable, wire-to-wire win left the Mavs pleased by their response to a lopsided loss in San Antonio two nights earlier.
"Definitely a good way to recover. Definitely needed to feel better again after really an embarrassing loss on the road. That was a good one to get," Nowitzki said. "We talked about wanting a good start and really set the tone tonight."
Holiday missed his first game with a stress fracture in his right shin. Anderson went down last week with a herniated disk and is out indefinitely as well.
That wasn't nearly enough to keep pace with the Mavs, who hit a season-high 14 3-pointers on 28 attempts from deep and shot 52.6 percent (41 of 78) overall.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams said Holiday's absence was only part of the reason for the loss.
"We just had some lack luster plays," Williams added. "They hit a number of 3s tonight off of our mistakes."
Dallas broke open the game with a 27-6 run that spanned from late in the second quarter until Brandan Wright's layup made it 76-53 with 3:35 to go in the third quarter. Nowitzki scored nine of his points during the run, including one of his four 3-pointers.
But the Pelicans turned the ball over 18 times, setting up 25 Dallas points. Meanwhile, Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans sat out the second half with a sore left ankle after missing his only two shots and turning over the ball twice in the first half.
"I would probably say we are a little soft," Rivers said. "We have to be a little more aggressive and a little tougher. We have to trust each other on the defensive end.
"Dirk, Monta, Vince, (Jose) Calderon -- all of those guys could just do whatever they wanted on any play, as if they were just going through a script," Rivers added.
Calderon scored 11 points, and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was pleased by Samuel Dalembert's nine points and eight rebounds in less than 19 minutes.
"Dalembert played big," Carlisle said. "He brings rebounding and rim protection to another level when he's rested and energetic. It's good to have him back and playing like this."
The Pelicans struggled to keep pace from the outset, and the Mavs led by 12 in the second quarter when Dalembert's dunk made it 40-28.
It might have been worse if not for Gordon's 14 points in the first quarter, and 19 in the opening half. Gordon's 3 and driving floater on successive possessions capped a 10-0 run that pulled New Orleans to 40-38. The Pelicans were still as close as 49-47 with 3:16 left in the period before Dallas pulled away again.
Nowitzki had 14 of his points in the opening half, and his 18-foot jumper ignited a 13-2 run to close second quarter. During the spurt, Ellis twice converted layups set up by New Orleans turnovers. Calderon and Ellis both added 3s as Dallas took a 62-49 lead into halftime.
The teams play each other again Saturday night in Dallas. ... The Mavs' 62 points at halftime were the most allowed in a first half by New Orleans this season. ... New Orleans has allowed 60-point first halves three times recently, giving up 61 to Minnesota on Jan. 1 and 61 to Washington on Jan. 8. ... Dallas has eclipsed 60 first-half points five times in its last eight games, with a high of 70 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 3.