Lawson, Nuggets cruise by defenseless Mavs 115-93

Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets opened their season with a

performance that sent a clear message to the rest of the NBA.

Not about them. About the Dallas Mavericks.

The reigning champions have quickly become a team everyone wants

to play. There’s no telling which is worse right now, their offense

or defense, their conditioning or chemistry, as they were drubbed

for a second straight game, losing 115-93 to the Nuggets on Monday

night.

Dallas gave up 20 straight points in the second quarter and had

a stretch of 14 straight missed shots during a 9:52 drought between

baskets. It was so bad that their player of the game, Sean

Williams, threw up when he left the court.

Williams, the 13th and final guy off the bench, was so gassed

from scoring 12 points in 11 energetic minutes that he vomited in

front of the team’s bench. Teammates and owner Mark Cuban laughed,

and fans in the area gave a light-hearted standing ovation while an

usher mopped up the mess.

Williams wasn’t sick, just not quite in game shape because of

the lockout. Of course, the way things are going for Dallas, plenty

of jokes were made about that being an editorial statement about

their performance.

”We look old and slow and out of shape – a bad combination,”

said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 20 points and sat out the entire

fourth quarter for a second straight game, yet another indication

of how bad things are going. ”I still think this team has a lot of

potential. But we have to turn the corner.”

The Mavs trailed by 33 in the third quarter, a day after being

down by 35 in the third quarter against Miami. Counting a pair of

preseason games against Oklahoma City, Dallas has been behind by at

least 23 points in every game since being crowned champs.

There are plenty of reasons to choose from: an overhaul of their

rotation, the shortened training camp and other teams being

motivated to take them down.

”We’re not comfortable with each other on both ends of the

floor,” Shawn Marion said. ”We’re trying to get acclimated and

you can tell it’s not flowing the way it should be and there’s

going to be some bumps.”

The challenge for coach Rick Carlisle is finding the right

combination of players. He’s trying to squeeze in Lamar Odom, Vince

Carter and Delonte West to replace Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and

others, all with little practice time. Carlisle already has seen a

lack of trust on defense, and that throws everything else out of

whack.

”We’re going to recharge tomorrow, have a hell of a practice on

Wednesday and then we’ve got to go up to Oklahoma City and we’re

going to have to play a lot better,” Carlisle said. ”I’ve got a

lot of work to do.”

The Nuggets hope this was an indication of what they can be like

when they have everything clicking, regardless of the foe.

Lawson made 8 of 9 shots in the first half, and finished with 27

points. Andre Miller and Al Harrington each scored 18 points off

the bench, and Denver’s deep, athletic roster scored on 19 of its

25 possessions in the second quarter.

”We’ve been jelling real quick,” Lawson said. ”I knew we’d

come out strong. … That’s when we’re good, when we get out and

run. It’s my job to make sure the tempo is fast and guys are

running in those lanes.”

Denver made only 12 baskets in the second half, but it hardly

mattered. The Nuggets led by 27 at halftime, and stretched it

during the third quarter.

”It’s way too early to get crazy but it felt good,” Nuggets

coach George Karl said.

Danilo Gallinari had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Arron

Afflalo scored 11.

Dallas was so out of sync that fans were booing before halftime.

The jeers came when a turnover near midcourt turned into a

three-on-none fast break for Denver. The Nuggets had enjoyed so

many easy baskets at that point that they didn’t even bother doing

anything fancy, with Gallinari softly tossing the ball to

Harrington for a routine dunk that made it 65-41.

For Dallas, Jason Kidd scored 12 points, Carter scored 11 and

Rodrigue Beaubois scored 10. Aside from Nowitzki and Kidd, the

other three starters (Marion, Brendan Haywood and West) scored a

combined 11 points.

Odom scored three points, making only 1 of 10 shots.

”We look like a team that’s new,” he said.

Williams played with as much intensity as he could muster

because this is his second time in the NBA. After being told he

wouldn’t return, he’s trying to prove he has staying power.

Leaving the way he did isn’t the kind of mark he’s trying to

make.

Williams actually started losing it while on the court. He

caught it in his mouth and hustled off with his cheeks full. He

couldn’t make it to the tunnel, or even a trash can.

”It was awkward, man, pretty awkward,” he said. ”It’s never

happened to me before – not ever, even in a practice.”

NOTES: Dallas is 0-2 for the first time since 2006-07, which is

also the last time the Mavs were coming off a trip to the NBA

finals. That team actually went 0-4, yet wound up winning 67 games.

… Denver got Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer in a trade from

Dallas during training camp. Fernandez scored eight points and

Brewer had five. … The Mavs forced a shot-clock violation on the

opening possession of the second half and drew one of the biggest

cheers of the night. They ended up keeping the Nuggets below 30

points in the quarter, yet Denver grew its lead anyway. … Kenyon

Martin, a Dallas native and former Denver star, watched from the

stands. … West started at shooting guard instead of Carter, who

started on opening night. Jason Terry replaced West to start the

second half.