Jason Terry made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 15 and the Dallas Mavericks, whose NBA title pursuit last season ended with a stunning first-round exit against Golden State, opened 2007-08 with a 92-74 victory over the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
The Mavericks held a foul-plagued James scoreless in the first half -- and to 10 points overall -- in an impressive debut against the defending Eastern Conference champions, who are being given little chance of getting back to the finals.
James, who carried the Cavs as far as he could last season before they were swept by San Antonio in the finals, had the worst opening night of his brilliant career. He shot just 2-of-11 from the field, made five turnovers and was mostly a non-factor in the Cavs' most lopsided home loss since April 5, 2005, and their worst loss in a home opener in six years.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 17 points and 18 rebounds for Cleveland, which before the game unfurled the franchise's first Eastern Conference championship banner.
"It's the first game, hopefully we can put it behind us," James said. "We didn't play well -- at all. It's kind of how we have been playing in the preseason. We didn't do anything right. We didn't play hard. We didn't execute."
The Mavericks made it tough on James, but they weren't about to credit their defense for stopping him.
"It's not so much what we did," Eddie Jones said. "He just missed shots. We contested shots, but he just missed them. Believe me, that won't last long, him scoring 10 points. He's too good."
Last season, Dallas seemingly had it all: a playoff-tested roster, the league's best record and in Nowitzki, the MVP. Then came the playoffs, and it all meant nothing against the only-small-in-stature Warriors, who stunned the Mavericks in six games.
It was a second straight playoff meltdown for Dallas, which blew a 2-0 lead against Miami in the previous year's finals.
The Mavericks looked poised to make another run at a title as they schooled the Cavs with ball movement, help defense and a go-for-the-throat attitude from the start. Dallas led by 14 after one quarter, 20 at halftime and eventually built a 25-point advantage before the Cavs closed down the stretch.
"We got off to a good start offensively and defensively," Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. "We were in a good flow in the first half. When we were open, we were popping our shots. And we were moving the ball well."
None of them was needed, as the Mavericks had little trouble with the Cavaliers, who had downplayed a 1-6 exhibition season by saying they would be ready for their opener. They didn't look like they were.
"We got our behinds kicked," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "Dallas came in here and did what they wanted to do offensively and defensively."
One of the few bright spots for Cleveland fans was a Sasha Pavlovic sighting. A restricted free agent, Pavlovic ended his contract holdout on Tuesday by agreeing to terms on a three-year deal.
However, Cleveland remains without frizzy-haired forward Anderson Varejao, another restricted free agent who is asking for a $9 million per year contract.
Booing, and not Halloween-related booing, ushered the Cavaliers to the locker room when they fell behind 54-34 at halftime.
James was 0-for-4 from the field when he committed his third personal foul and spent the final 6:27 of the second quarter on the bench. Without their superstar, the Cavs briefly cut Dallas' lead to 13 before the Mavericks closed the quarter with a 14-4 run.
Cleveland was still in it late in the third, but Terry drained a 3-pointer and Harris hit a 24-foot jumper at the horn to give the Mavericks a 78-59 lead entering the fourth.
James arrived in costume a few hours before the game, appropriately dressed as "Business LeBron," one of the four characters he plays in his popular Nike commercials. ... After the Cavs were swept by the Spurs, Brown called Johnson, a close friend, who was able to put things in perspective by reminding him that only two teams made the finals. "After that, I felt better for the rest of the summer," Brown said. ... Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, recently voted off "Dancing With the Stars," was the target of several in-game skits on the arena scoreboard. Cuban was a good sport, laughing and waving at the camera from his seat behind Dallas' bench. ... Ilgauskas is the first Cavs player to start eight openers.
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