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Rout maps out tough road ahead for Mavs

The Sports Xchange

The Mavericks raised the banner on their championship season and then found out quickly how difficult it will be to defend their title.

The Miami Heat pounded the champs who kept them from winning the title last June, 105-94, but the final score didn't do justice to a Miami performance that featured 37 points by LeBron James and a 35-point lead by the Heat in the third quarter.

Dallas is working in key new players who didn't fare well in their debuts. Lamar Odom was ejected after picking up two technical fouls in the third quarter after playing just 13 minutes, and Vince Carter was removed from the starting lineup to start the third quarter.

"We've got to get better and it will take a little time to get better, and even though the start of the season is going to be a sprint it's still a long season, right, with 65 to go," Odom said after leaving with four points and four rebounds. "We've got another one (Monday), so we'll chalk this one up as a loss and get ready for Denver."

The schedule is unforgiving for teams with an influx of new players like the Mavs. The up-tempo Nuggets are in Dallas for their season opener on Monday night. The Mavs will get two days off after that before starting another back-to-back set with the first at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Oklahoma City is a team much like the Heat, with a roster that remained intact from a highly successful season a year ago. Right out of the chute, the pressure is on the defending champs.

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