Their loss in the NBA finals was disheartening, but it was the way the Los Angeles Lakers went out -- a 39-point loss in Game 6 -- that was the lingering image of their otherwise successful postseason run.
This season, it's Los Angeles that's delivering the blowouts.
With five wins by an average of 22.4 points under their belt, the Lakers will try to start 6-0 for the first time since 2001-02 -- the year they won their last title -- when they begin a two-night, two-game road trip against the Dallas Mavericks.
Los Angeles's main addition to its Western Conference champion roster was Andrew Bynum, the 21-year-old center who missed the last half of the 2007-08 season and the playoffs with a knee injury. Averaging 9.2 points and 8.8 rebounds, Bynum is still working his way back into game shape, but the Lakers haven't missed a beat.
Four of their five wins have come by at least 18 points, including a 111-82 thumping of Houston on Sunday. Los Angeles fell behind 32-16 early in the second quarter before outscoring the Rockets 95-50 the rest of the way.
"It's all a matter of rhythm," said Kobe Bryant, who finished with 23 points. "We were a little rusty starting the game. We have a lot of weapons, we know how to use them. We move the ball and whoever gets it gets it."
Bryant has only scored 30 points once in the Lakers' first five games after doing so 36 times last season, but with Los Angeles' closest margin of victory being seven points, he hasn't needed to take over.
Seven Lakers are averaging at least 9.0 points, and Los Angeles leads the league with 51.4 rebounds per game, led by Pau Gasol's 11.6.
The Mavericks (2-4) beat San Antonio by 17 last Tuesday, their first of three straight road games, but lost the next two. The trip concluded with a 103-92 loss to the previously winless Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
"We just couldn't get stops, and we couldn't make any shots at the other end," said guard Jason Kidd, who had seven points and nine assists. "Even when we're not scoring, we've got to find ways to stop our opponents or we're not going to win any games. It's hard to win when you give up that many points."
That loss came without forward Josh Howard, who aggravated his sprained left wrist Friday at Denver. Howard is listed as day-to-day, though the Mavericks are hopeful he'll be able to play against the Lakers.
Howard is averaging 25.0 points in his last five home games against Los Angeles.
With Howard sidelined against the Clippers, Dirk Nowitzki helped pick up the slack, scoring 33 points. Since a 3-for-11, eight-point performance in a loss to Cleveland on Nov. 3, Nowitzki is scoring 28.7 ppg in his last three.
Nowitzki averaged 29.5 points in four games against the Lakers last season, but Los Angeles won the final three meetings.
The main reason for the Lakers' success against Dallas was Bryant. The Mavericks couldn't contain the Lakers superstar, who averaged 36.5 points on 54.2 percent shooting.
Los Angeles has lost four of its past five on the road against the Mavs, who are trying to avoid falling to 0-3 at home for the first time since 1993-94, when they lost their first 19 home games.