Mavericks 127, Jazz 102

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DALLAS (AP)—Apparently, one ball is plenty for the Mavericks’ many shooters.

Newcomers Antoine Walker, Antawn Jamison and Tony Delk all had big games in their home debut, playing so well that Dallas’ holdover stars were practically an afterthought in a 127-102 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

Delk led the way with 22 points, 14 coming in a third quarter that stands as an early testament of how exciting the new-look Mavs can be. Dallas scored 41 points in the period, with one stretch featuring four straight 3-pointers and an easy layup when Walker passed instead of putting up another 3.

Walker scored 10 in the third and finished with 16 points and six assists. Jamison overcame an 0-for-6 start to finish with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Even rookie Marquis Daniels had 10 points.

“We’ve got so many guys who can make shots,” Delk said. “This team can only get better.”

As for the usual Big Three of Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, they were still productive. Finley scored 16, Nowitzki had 15 on 6-of-8 shooting, and Nash had 12 points and seven assists.

With so much depth, Mavs coach Don Nelson was able to tinker with lineups and always have multiple players on the court who would be leading scorers on other teams. They can’t all be double-covered, nor can they all be accounted for on the fast break.

“We’re going to pose a lot of different problems for teams,” Walker said. “It’s tough to match up on us. We’ve got all sorts of different combinations and our coach is not afraid to use them.”

That’s what Dallas was hoping for when acquiring Walker and Delk from Boston and Jamison from Golden State. The Mavs wound up with only four active holdovers from a squad that won 60 games and reached the conference finals last season, and their lack of cohesiveness showed the first two games.

After losing to the Lakers and squeaking past the Warriors, the Mavericks were relieved to crack 100 points early in the fourth quarter and cruise to victory—even if it was against the rebuilding Jazz.

“We hit 3s and we ran and ran and ran,” owner Mark Cuban said. “Obviously we’re capable of this. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing all these big checks.”

Utah led by three early, but couldn’t successfully follow its surprise win over Portland in the opener. The Jazz never led in the final three periods, trailing by as many as 29.

Coach Jerry Sloan admitted his team—lacking the leadership and resilience of Karl Malone and John Stockton—was stunned by Dallas’ third-quarter outburst.

“We’re young, we’ve got to fight through that,” Sloan said. “There are things we have to learn and we got a good lesson tonight.”

DeShawn Stevenson scored 13 in the first quarter but only 11 the rest of the way. Andrei Kirilenko scored 21, former Mav Raja Bell had 16 and Matt Harpring and Ben Handlogten added 10 each.

The Mavs were choppy in the first half, with a confused look on Nowitzki’s face during one possession summing up their problems. Once they slid into their up-tempo style, plenty of highlights followed.

Delk opened the second half with a nice reverse layup, then Walker hit a long 3-pointer. Delk made a 3 and Walker hit another, then Walker made a nifty pass that gave Finley an easy layup. Finley followed with a long skip pass that set up Delk for another 3 and a 20-point lead.

Later in the quarter, Jamison dove out of bounds to save a ball and heaved it near midcourt. Walker snagged it out of a crowd and knocked it to Nowitzki, who dished to Best. He somehow spun it in while getting fouled then completed the three-point play.

Early in the fourth, Walker flipped a nice alley-oop to Finley that brought the crowd to its feet.

By then, Nelson was experimenting with lineups. Despite a pre-game pledge not to use more than two newcomers at once, he teamed Walker, Delk, Jamison and Best with Shawn Bradley when up by 18 late in the third. Other combinationsfollowed during a garbage-time fourth quarter.

Notes

The Mavericks improved to 15-9 in home openers and 3-0 at their new arena. Dallas also broke even in all-time home games against Utah, each winning 29. … Carlos Arroyo (sprained left ankle) and Keon Clark (bone spur right ankle) didn’t play for Utah, while Dallas was without rookie Josh Howard(sprained ankle).

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Utah
D. Stevenson D. Stevenson
8-17,  24 Pts
6 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Dallas
A. Jamison A. Jamison
6-15,  18 Pts
10 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists