DALLAS _ With five days off before playing the New Jersey Nets, the Dallas Mavericks expected to look as fresh as they've bene all seaosn.
Instead, the Mavs looked like the team that started off the season several steps behind the Miami Heat.
The Mavs shot 36 percent from the field, got outrebounded 53-49 and got out-played while losing to the Nets, 93-92, at American Airlines Center.
"Coming off the break it looked like the first game of the season,'' point guard Jason Kidd said. "Nothing was going our way.
"And we came out after halftime and had a chance to take the lead. It was our game to have and we couldn't get it done down the stretch.''
This was the opener of a 12-day period when the Mavs will play nine games in seven different cities.
Kidd missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game. But the Mavs even had difficulties on that sequence, which started with 17.9 seconds left on the clock.
"I had a wide open look and I was trying to keep the last shot so we could run the clock down,'' Kidd said. "Once I lost focus -- not focus -- but the pass, I had to heave one up.''
The Mavs fell behind 28-23 after the first period and never got a handle on Brook Lopez, who poured in 38 points.
"I sound like a broken record, but if we get off to a good start and we have a decent first quarter we have a chance to win,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "But when we're down 14-to-16 points in the first quarter -- which has been our M.O. from time to time -- we're not very good.''
DALLAS _ Mark Cuban put to rest speculation that Lamar Odom wants the Dallas Mavericks to buy him otu of his contract so he can go play for the Los Angeles Clippers.
"We're not going to buy out anybody,'' Cuban said before Tuesday's game against the New Jersey Nets. "There's no reason to and we're not going to do it.
"I say that purely just to shut the questions up.''
But the questions kept coming, since Odom missed last Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Mavs have already announced that he'll miss tonight's game against the Nets and Wednesday's game in Memphis.
Odom reportedly is in Los Angeles because his father is ill. But he's never really had a close relationship with his dad, leading to speculation that something else is amiss.
At least two players and one high-ranking NBA official who were in Orlando for last week's All-Star game said Odom wants out of Dallas, and wants to play for the Clippers, who drafted him in 1999.
Asked if Odom, whom the Mavs acquired from the Lakers in December, will be here the remainder of the season, Cuban said: "That's the assumption, yeah. There's no reason to think otherwise.
"You can say that about every guy on the roster.''
Odom is averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game. He also is shooting just 35.7 percent form the field and 25.9 percent from three-point range.
Except for the three-point shooting, those are all career-low numbers for Odom.
DALLAS -- It's been a tough two weeks for Rodrigue Beaubois.
The Dallas Mavericks guard is back in town and with the team following the sudden death of his father. Beaubois missed five games while tending to the tragedy, and is more than happy to get back to his personal oasis on the basketball court.
"Nobody wanted that to happen, but it happened, so now we just need to be strong together,'' Beaubois said. "Life is still going on, so we just need to be strong together.''
Point guard Jason Kidd said the Mavs will be very supportive of Beaubois, whom the Mavs hope can one day become the point guard to replace Kidd.
"I think the big thing is just to remind him that we're here for him,'' Kidd said. "If there's anything, I think we're all a little bit older than he is, and that may be have experienced death in family and share our experiences and hopefully that will help him.''
Prior to missing those five games due to his father's death, Beaubois had sat out three straight games because of a coach's decision. But now he said he's mentally ready to come back and contribute to the Mavs.
"I came back on Sunday and it was good to come back and get to my habits and everything, and see the guys and everything,'' Beaubois said. "Basketball is what I love. . .so I'm ready to play, and I think that's good for me. I feel very good.''
DALLAS -- Lamar Odom will not be with the Dallas Mavericks for the next two games because he reportedly is in Los Angeles with his father, who is ill.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said Odom will miss tonight's game against the New Jersey Nets and Wednesday's road game at Memphis.
"Lamar is going to not be with us these two games and then we'll update everybody on Thursday as to where we're at,'' Carlisle said after this morning's shoot around at American Airlines Center. "He's got a tough situation he's going through, we're very supportive as a franchise and we'll let you know Thursday where we at.''
Asked how do the Mavs move forward without Odom during this period of time, Carlisle said: "Well, I think I just answered that. We're going to go with the guys we've got.''
The Mavs are refuting reports out of Los Angeles that Odom wants the Mavs to buy him out of his contract so he can play elsewhere. Owner Mark Cuban said a buyout will not take place.
"We have not discussed a buyout,'' Cuban said, "and we will not buy him out under any circumstances.''
At least two sources told the Star-Telegram that Odom wants to return to Los Angeles, where his career began, and play for the Clippers. And at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando, at least two players and a high-ranking NBA offiicial said they heard Odom wanted out of Dallas.
The Clippers made Odom the No. 4 overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft. The 6-10 forward played for the Clipperrs from 1999-2003, then played one season for the Miami Heat, and for the Lakers from 2004-'11.
The Lakers attempted to trade Odom to the New Orleans Hornets in December in a deal that ultimately was nixed by NBA commissioner David Stern. When Odom got wind of the trade, he was furious and asked the Lakers to trade him.
The Lakers then traded Odom -- the next day to Dallas.
Thus far, Odom has not fit it well with the Mavs. He's averaged just 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds -- well below the 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds he averaged last year while becoming the first Laker to ever win the NBA's Sixth Man Award.
Asked after this morning's shoot around about Odom's situation, Mavs point guard Jason Kidd said: "It's going to work itself out one way or another, and we just hope it works itself out soon.''
Odom contemplated sitting out this season after one of his cousins was killed last summer. Shortly after that, an SUV Odom was riding in collided with a motorcycle, which skidded and killed a teenager.
Odom's wife, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian, talked Odom into playing this season.
Guard Jason Terry, who recently missed a game in Philadelphia due to the death of his uncle, said he's unaware of Odom's situation.
"Don't know, and really we've just got to go with what we have here,'' Terry said. "We can''t worry about who's not here. It's all about us.''
DALLAS -- What the Dallas Mavericks are about to experience over the next 12 days is basketball's answer to the torture test.
Starting with Tuesday's game at American Airlines Center against the New Jersey Nets, the Mavs will play nine games in 12 days in seven different cities. That includes three sets of back-to-backs, no practice, and a back-to-back-to-back.
In other words, only the strong will survive this challenge.
"It's a great opportunity because none of us have ever gone through this before,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "It could be pure emerging in basketball.
"There won't be any practices, other than a few shoot arounds. This is the kind of challenge that a veteran team should really wrap their heads around because it's just playing ball, and it's going to come down to our defense, our rebounding and how well we take care of the ball.''
It also may come down to how well Jason Kidd holds up. Kidd, who turns 39 next month, may be asked to sit one or two of the nine games so he can be fresh for the season's stretch run.
"We'll evalute that as we go along, but at this point we've got to go day to day,'' Carlisle said. "Trying to look at the whole thing and figure out if and when the guy's going to sit out several days or weeks from now is not that constructive to me.
"But we're going to continue to watch his minutes real close.''
Kidd, who is averaging 28.3 minutes per game, said he will carefully monitor what he does during this upcoming 12-day span.
"You've just make sure you get lots of rest,'' Kidd said. "Maybe the one thing that helps is coming off a (five-day All-Star) break, so we do have a little rest.''
After Tuesday's game against the Nets, the Mavs play Wednesday in Memphis, Friday in New Orleans and then host Utah on Saturday. From there, the Mavs play at Oklahoma City next Monday, then host New York on Mar. 6, before having road games Mar. 8-10 at Phoenix, Sacramento and Golden State.
Having the back-to-back-to-back portion of this rugged schedule is brutal at best, because it comes at the tail end of the nine-game excursion. Carlisle sees this as a positive.
"If you're going to jump into the water you might as well jump in the deep end,'' Carlisle said. "That way you're not going to hit your head in the bottom.
"What difference does it make, really? The good thing about that stretch at the end, the proximity of the cities is decent.''
Maybe, but it's still three games in three days of a long journey where players tend to get more tired and start mailing in games.
"We'll be coming off of a day off headed into that stretch, and the desert air (in Phoenix) is healthy,'' Carlisle said. "(But) we've got tough games coming up well before that.''
Like other Mavs players, forward Dirk Nowitzki is not exactly thrilled about playing nine games in 12 days.
"I mean, nine games in 12 days is really unheard of, but we've got to get through it and we're going to need everybody to play well,'' Nowitzki said. "It is brutal, the whole season has been brutal.
"It's the NBA's fault, it's the player's association fault. They knew this was coming for two years and we didn't do anything about it, but now every team's got to deal with it and we've got to make the best out of it.''
Carlisle believes the Mavs will have to lean on their defense to help pull them through this 12-day stretch.
"We've established ourselves to this point as a top five defensive team and we've got to carry that into this stretch,'' Carlisle said. "Why not make the challenge as challenging as you can.''
Nowitzki acknowledged that this is where the Mavs' veteran experience should kick in and win a game or two during these next nine games.
"We've got to win some of those games with our experience,'' Nowitzki said. "I think some of those nights the jumper is not going to fall, and we've got to stay solid defensively, rebound and play a smart floor game.''
At 21-13, the Mavs are currently entrenched as a solid team in the Western Conference. After the next nine games, they'll find out just how solid they really are.
"I love the challenge, I love the opportunity, it's unprecedented and (if) you can't get into a challenge like this, you shouldn't be in this,'' Carlisle said. "We'll find out what we're made of.''
ORLANDO -- Mary J. Blige, P Diddy, Chris Brown, Kevin Hart and Spike Lee are among the celebrities at All-Star Saturday tonight.
Others would have been here, but some are back in Los Angeles getitng ready for Sunday's Acadmny Award. Because of the NBA lockout, All-Star Weekend was pushed back two weeks, and thus is going head-to-head with one of Hollywood's biggest weekends.