New center tandem is low on points

DALLAS --Five games in and it's difficult to tell if the Dallas Mavericks' newest center tandem can be any more offensively potent than the old one. It sure didn't seem that way Saturday night.

The Denver Nuggets took it to the Mavs despite playing without its top three frontline players -- 6-foot-9 forward Kenyon Martin, 6-foot-11 center Nene and 6-10 forward/center Chris Andersen.

"I do think we're cheating a little bit," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We're cheating whatever the level of integrity of size is in an NBA game."

The Mavs didn't seem to notice or were just unable to take advantage in Saturday's 103-92 home loss. Dallas' center tandem of Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood combined for one field goal, three points, 12 rebounds, two blocked shots and three turnovers. In two games against the depleted Nuggets, the duo has combined for 14 points and 25 rebounds.

Chandler played almost 27 minutes Saturday night and 30 minutes in the game in Denver, while Haywood's time was more sporadic, totaling about 31 minutes in both games.

In Saturday's game, Denver's fill-in trio of Shelden Williams, Gary Forbes and Melvin Ely, combined for 21 points and 14 rebounds.

In the home loss to Memphis, the Grizzlies were without Zach Randolph, a known Mavs killer, yet Dallas still lost the game as their centers combined for three points and 13 boards. As in the past, the Mavs' centers will never be offensive focal points, but to score so little, especially off put-backs or easy lobs against smaller defenders, is difficult to comprehend.

"Yeah, that's definitely disappointing," Chandler said. "You definitely want to get more than that, regardless of the situation. Maybe we've got to assert ourselves a little more. We've got to do so in the flow of the things. This is a team where it's not going to be dump-and-down."

Haywood, who signed a $55 million contract with the Mavs in the offseason, has been held scoreless twice in five games and scored two points in two others. Chandler, who averaged a double-double the last time he was fully healthy in 2007-08 with the New Orleans Hornets, has yet to notch double-figure scoring and twice now has posted just three points.

"Our opportunties are going to come to us," Chandler said. "And when they do come to us, we've got to make the other team pay for them."