Mavs vie to bounce back vs. Nuggets
The Mavs raised the franchise's first NBA title banner on Christmas Day but it was the Heat that played like champs.
Dallas will not have to wait long for redemption, however, as the Mavericks get right back to work on Monday by hosting the Denver Nuggets.
The Mavs unfurled their 2010-11 championship banner in a pregame ceremony Sunday before being utterly dismantled, 105-94, by a motivated Miami squad.
For the Heat, the whooping was a measure of revenge after June's six-game NBA Finals defeat at the hands of Dallas. LeBron James, largely maligned for his underwhelming Finals performance, dominated on Sunday, pouring in 37 points and going 15-of-19 from the foul line.
Jason Terry scored 23 points, while finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki finished with 21. Shawn Marion had 12 points and Jason Kidd chipped in nine in defeat.
Key offseason acquisition Lamar Odom scored just four points and was ejected in the third quarter for arguing a charging call. Delonte West and Vince Carter, also new additions to the Mavs, finished with 10 and five points, respectively.
Just six months removed from their first-ever NBA title, the Mavericks appeared to be suffering from a hangover of sorts. The abbreviated two-game preseason -- a product of the league's lengthy lockout -- also appeared to diminish a Dallas team which underwent a noticeable offseason overhaul.
Missing from the pregame ceremony was defensive anchor Tyson Chandler, who landed in New York during the brief offseason. Odom, a former Laker, enjoyed a lackluster debut before his hasty exit and Carter went just 2-for-6 from the field in 20 minutes.
"We've got to get better and it will take a little time to get better," Odom said. "Even though the start of the season is going to be a sprint it's still a long season with 65 to go."
Denver, meanwhile, will be embarking on its first full season without superstar Carmelo Anthony since 2002-03.
Early returns were impressive when the team finished 18-7 after trading Anthony to New York, earning its fourth consecutive 50-win season as well as an eighth straight postseason appearance, one that ended in a first round loss to Oklahoma City.
The Nuggets were able to re-sign their top two free agents, Nene and Arron Afflalo, while adding veteran point guard Andre Miller, who came over in a trade with Portland, as well as swingmen Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez, who were acquired from the Mavs on Dec. 13.
Last season, Nene logged a career high-tying 14.5 per game to go with 7.6 rebounds, while also leading the league in shooting percentage. Afflalo added a career-best 12.6 ppg and is a dogged defender.
"These guys are very valuable to the organization, and they are very skilled players," general manager Masai Ujiri told the Nuggets' website. "Rather than go out and find players like them, I think you keep the ones you have."
Denver has won three straight and nine of 12 over the Mavs.