for this game

Terry, Mavericks rout James, Cavaliers in season opener

Nov 1, 2007 - 4:35 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers did not look like a team that made their first NBA Finals appearance last June.

Jason Terry scored 24 points as the Dallas Mavericks used a stellar first half en route to a 92-74 win over the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

Reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki collected 15 points and six assists for Dallas, which ran out to a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter. The Mavericks were without All-Star Josh Howard, who is serving a two-game suspension for fighting in a preseason contest.

Jerry Stackhouse netted 17 points and Devin Harris added 13 to provide plenty of offensive support for Dallas, which was playing its first game since losing to the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs - one of the most shocking upsets in NBA history.

"I thought we had an excellent first quarter, offensively and defensively. We tried to attack (LeBron) James," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "We had a pretty good training camp, and it carried over into this first game."

Projected by many to be this season's MVP, Cavaliers superstar James experienced a nightmarish first half. He sat the final 6:27 of the second quarter after picking up his third foul and was held scoreless over the first 24 minutes for the first time in his career.

"I thought it was a strong move," James said about his third foul, a charge into Nowitzki. "I got into the lane and I jumped straight up and (Nowitzki) got up underneath me and (the official) gave me a charge. I had three of them today (foul calls) that were questionable."

If not for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers might have been down by 30 at half instead of 54-34. Ilgauskas had 14 first-half points, mostly on follow shots and finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds.

"It wasn't our best effort, first game, hopefully we can put this behind us," James said. "We didn't play well at all. It was kind of like how we played in the preseason (1-6)." James split two free throws to score his first point at 10:09 of the third period and moments later hit his first field goal - a hook shot at 6:42. "King James" wound up with 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting.

"Tonight, the most valuable players are Trenton Hassell and Eddie Jones," Terry said. "The way they guarded and defended LeBron James and made it tough on him, that's the reason we brought them here."

Johnson echoed Terry's sentiment.

"Dirk (Nowitzki) and Gana (Diop) protected the basket for us pretty well because even when (James) got down there, I thought we were in there," Johnson said. "That's one of the things we've been focusing on with Dirk, playing better interior defense. Hassell and Eddie, that's why we have those guys here."

Drew Gooden had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland, which took the court for the first time since getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the best-of-seven NBA championship series.

"It's going to be tough if Larry (Hughes) and LeBron go a combined 4-of-24 (shooting)," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.

"I don't think it can get any worse than that," Hughes said.