DALLAS — There were so many problems last season for the Lakers, and one was unkind enough to stay awhile, tracking plenty of dirt onto the new carpet.
The Lakers couldn't win on the road with Dwight Howard last season and can't do it without him so far.
The sample size is small but strong, the Lakers falling meekly to the Dallas Mavericks, 123-104, Tuesday at American Airlines Center.
Pau Gasol and Steve Nash shot poorly, the entire team rebounded lamely and the Lakers trailed by 30 in a road game for the second time in six days.
Oh, and they fell to 0-2 away from Staples Center after also being blasted by Golden State last week, 125-94.
The strange thing about Tuesday was the Lakers' 20-point deficit late in the second quarter without Dirk Nowitzki scoring a point.
He finally scored, of course, but finished with only 11, meaning most of the damage was done by guard Monta Ellis (30 points, nine assists) and a role player named Jae Crowder (18 points, seven-for-nine shooting).
"We can't make a habit out of getting our butts kicked on the road, because otherwise teams, when we come to their house, they're going to be like, 'Well, we've got the Lakers, we're going to kick their [rear],' " Gasol said.
The only real question was whether Dallas would get to 130 points after hitting 120 midway through the fourth quarter. Miraculously, they didn't. Not that it mattered.
The Lakers' starting five combined for 32 points, Gasol scoring 10 on four-for-nine shooting and Nash scoring five on two-for-eight shooting.
The rebounding numbers were silly, the Lakers falling way short, 50-35. It would take an entire story to attack their defensive frailty.
Before Tuesday, they were 25th in the NBA in points allowed (105.5) and 26th in opponents' shooting percentage (46.7%).
Both are sure to get worse. The Lakers let the Mavericks shoot 52%.
"Way too many points," Gasol said, mentioning the Mavericks' 67-point first half. "If we give something up, it has to be a contested jump shot, not a layup, not a dunk."
It got so bad that Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni made another lineup change, this one on the fly. Shawne Williams was benched to start the third quarter in favor of Jordan Hill.
The results were a lot like the first half, even though Hill had some dunks on the way to eight points and three rebounds.
The Lakers had done pretty well here in recent years, winning five in a row by an average of 11.2 points, including two victories last season when they were 16-25 on the road, their worst mark since 2004-05.
But this recurring roadkill is already an issue in a young season.
"If you're detecting a pattern, it's not very good," D'Antoni said.
The Lakers' next test won't be easy — Thursday in Houston, where they have lost four in a row.
And that's not even considering the Howard factor. He'll presumably be ready to play the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers after abruptly turning his back on them in July.
Hill, one of the few Lakers who still talked to Howard, called him "definitely a cool cat" on Tuesday. But Hill added that he chastised Howard for not returning to the Lakers.
"He felt that Houston was a better fit for him, a better place for him. No love lost," Hill said. "I did tell him he should have stayed."
Howard hasn't missed much on the Lakers other than a rousing opening-night victory over the Clippers. After Tuesday's dismal effort, it seemed more like a month had passed than merely a week.
Twitter: @Mike_BresnahanCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun