EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- All those losses in what's now the worst start in NBA history had already beaten down the New Jersey Nets.
So when the Dallas Mavericks hit them with a 49-point second quarter, the Nets simply had no fight left.
New Jersey was pounded into NBA infamy Wednesday night, falling 117-101 for its 18th straight loss to start the season.
"I think what happens is you know it wears on you," interim coach Tom Barrise said. "It's not a two-game losing streak. We play four games a week in this league and it's every day and every other day, and you know you hear it and you start to feel it a little bit."
The Mavericks made 17 of 19 shots and opened a 27-point lead in a nearly flawless second period, burying the Nets early in former New Jersey captain Jason Kidd's second trip back to his old home.
If the Nets defend the way they did Wednesday, the skid could last a while longer.
Dallas shot 81 percent in the first half, the first NBA team to make 80 percent of its shots in a half since the Denver Nuggets hit 82 percent against the Clippers on April 4, 2006, according to STATS, LLC.
"At this point, I feel the streak has definitely gotten the best of us. It's really starting to get to us now," guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "So when a team goes on a run, we kind of, it's almost like we give up, which is really unfortunate but that's what it looks like to me. We kind of give up and just lay down instead of trying to fight."
Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points and Kidd had 16 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Mavericks, who led by 31 points in the third quarter. Erick Dampier added 18 points and 11 boards, and Jason Terry also scored 18 points.
The Nets, the NBA's worst team in scoring and shooting, could only blame their defense this time, which gives new coach Kiki Vandeweghe something to address when he runs his first practice Thursday.
Vandeweghe, the Nets' general manager, replaced the fired Lawrence Frank and will coach the team the rest of the season -- but not quite yet. Though his hiring was announced Tuesday, Vandeweghe won't coach his first game until Friday, leaving Barrise in charge one more time.
Vandeweghe handled the pregame coach's meeting with reporters, then sat in a seat above center court with Del Harris, the former Dallas assistant who will join him on the bench.
"Nobody likes to lose. Period. And obviously we made it clear and you all know this is a developmental year, but nobody expected to be 0-17," Vandeweghe said before the game. "That's just obviously not acceptable and I think that it's not acceptable to anybody and especially the players."
The longtime losers had their chances to avoid history. They led Minnesota by 19 in the third quarter on opening night before losing 95-93 on Damien Wilkins' putback at the buzzer, and lost 81-80 on Nov. 14 at Miami when Dwyane Wade made a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left.
New Jersey hung around for a quarter in this one. The Mavs shot 71 percent in the first period, but the Nets turned six Dallas turnovers into 11 points and fought their way to a 28-all tie.
It was over a few minutes later. Dallas shot 89.5 percent in the second, hitting its final nine shots and making all 10 free throws while building a 77-50 lead.
"We came out with great energy, great defensive effort in the first quarter and then we have two steps back in the second quarter, giving up 49 points and them shooting 81 percent in the first half," point guard Devin Harris said. "The second half was good, but that's too tall of a mountain to climb obviously from a team that has been struggling."
There were only a few boos, but then again there weren't many fans. The Nets have been plagued by poor crowds for years, and a chance to see history or Kidd wasn't enough to change that, as attendance was announced at just 11,689.
Some fans left early -- a few heckling Vandeweghe and Harris on their way out -- while two sitting courtside wearing Santa Claus hat-covered paper bags that read "0-18" over their heads were still there in the fourth quarter.
Eyeing the summer of 2010 free-agent class and still planning a long-delayed move to Brooklyn, the Nets have made a series of cost-cutting moves in recent seasons, trading Kidd and other players who helped them become a perennial playoff team and two-time NBA finalist this decade.
"It's unfortunate. There's nobody on that team that was a part of the run we had here," Kidd said. "They're going in a different direction. Personnel-wise, they're young. They got some young talent. The future is bright for them if they can stay together and stay healthy."
But they were woefully unprepared to deal with the injuries that have hit them this season, especially against a Dallas team that was fortified this summer after owner Mark Cuban signed off on the re-signing of Kidd and a trade for Shawn Marion.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, an assistant for five years in New Jersey, compared the Nets' situation to when he coached an Indiana team wrecked by suspensions after the brawl with Detroit Pistons fans five years ago.
"I've been through it. It's tough. It's not easy," Carlisle said. "Kiki will do a great job with these guys because he's a great teacher and they're going to get healthier. Everything is going up. It's at the bottom now."
Douglas-Roberts scored 24 points and Harris, acquired in February 2008 in the Kidd trade, added 17. Brook Lopez had 16.
Vandeweghe and Del Harris worked together as assistant coaches in Dallas. Cuban expects their partnership to work well, comparing it to when Larry Bird coached Indiana and Carlisle was the Xs and Os guy as his assistant. ... Vandeweghe said starting forward Yi Jianlian, who has missed the last 14 games with a sprained right knee ligament, could start practicing by early next week.
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