NEW YORK, NOV. 8 -- Conventional wisdom, meet Paul Westhead.

Westhead is coach of the Denver Nuggets, who continue to set the NBA on edge with an attack that will shatter all known scoring records by the end of the season at its current pace. Problem is, those records will be defensive as well as offensive.

The Nuggets are 0-4 after Wednesday's 161-153 loss in San Antonio, a game that set records for most points by one team in the first half (90, Nuggets) and two teams (173, breaking the mark established six days earlier in Golden State's 162-158 victory over Denver).

"I've found the ultimate answer," Westhead said during preseason. "If I can get my defense to work for me, nothing can stop the offense. . . . Once my guys get it, my opponents will be the ones who have to adjust."

So far, opponents have had no problem with the questions. They had shot .549 against Denver before the Spurs made 64 of 101 shots (.634). San Antonio had four players who scored more than 20 points -- without injured starting guards Willie Anderson and Rod Strickland.

The Nuggets are allowing 141 points per game, an average that would obliterate the record of 126 in 1981-82, set by, who else, Denver. Those were the Nuggets of former coach Doug Moe, a free-wheeling, shot-happy group that scored in bunches with a motion offense. But they did so by pushing the ball up the floor, and occasionally stopping somebody.

"It's going to be hard for them," said former Nuggets all-star guard Fat Lever, traded to Dallas in the offseason. "We caught them on a night when they had played Friday and we played them on Saturday on the road {140-110}. It's going to be hard for them physically. When you go back East and you've got to play that up-and-down type of game, it's not going to be easy."

The system, which Westhead parlayed into success at Loyola Marymount, is simple enough. Defensively, Denver uses constant full-court trapping, the idea being it can force tempo to score as much as possible, and force turnovers by the bushel.

But what has happened is that opponents are getting bushels of three-on-ones and two-on-nones.

Some think Westhead has no choice, given his personnel. Orlando Woolridge, late of the Lakers and averaging 30.3 points per game, joins Blair Rasmussen and Walter Davis up front, with second-year man Todd Lichti and journeyman Avery Johnson in the backcourt. The bench features ex-CBAer Corey Gaines, Jerome Lane and rookie Marcus Liberty.

To be fair, guards Michael Adams and Chris Jackson are injured. And one of the few Nuggets who can defend, swingman Bill Hanzlik, is out until at least January after back surgery.

Some say Denver, having finished 23rd in attendance and with one of the worst season ticket renewals ever, had to do something to sell tickets in a football-mad town.

"They're trying so hard to go up tempo," Boston's Kevin McHale said, "that they're sacrificing a lot. . . . But Doug Moe did a lot of things with almost the same personnel. We'll just have to wait and see."