Dallas stuns loaded Lakers in opener, 99-91
The Los Angeles Lakers have spent a month together now, and they
still haven’t won a game. They acknowledge it’s a struggle to blend
this new combination of talents into a cohesive team.
The Dallas Mavericks were happy to show them how it’s done in a
stunning season opener.
Darren Collison scored 17 points, Brandan Wright added 14, and
the Mavericks spoiled the Los Angeles debuts of Dwight Howard and
Steve Nash with a 99-91 victory over the Lakers on Tuesday
O.J. Mayo had 12 points as the Mavericks comfortably beat the
star-studded Lakers, pulling away steadily in a drama-free second
half without any help from injured Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas and Los
Angeles both made big offseason moves that upended two contending
teams, yet the Mavericks were much more together than their
”It was very satisfying to be up 16 points against that team,
with all the low expectations (people had) for us,” said Elton
Brand, who had eight points and 11 rebounds in his first game for
While the Mavericks celebrated an energizing win, the Lakers’
superstar newcomers both had debuts to forget.
Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds while missing 11 of his 14
free throws before fouling out with 2:02 to play. That’s hardly
what he anticipated after arriving in a trade with Orlando last
August, but not much has gone according to plan in the first month
for the Lakers’ starters, who barely played together during their
0-8 preseason due to Kobe Bryant’s nagging injuries and Howard’s
deliberate return from back surgery.
”It’s not an excuse, but it will all come with time,” Howard
said. ”We haven’t had an opportunity to really play together as
much as we want, but we’re going to get it. … We’re going to chip
away, and we’re going to get better.”
Nash managed just seven points and four assists while trying to
balance the Lakers’ new motion offense with his own strengths on
the pick-and-roll – all while getting roundly outplayed by Mavs
”It’s growing pains, and it’s a struggle,” the two-time NBA
MVP said. ”We’re out of sync, and we’re going to probably have
some more moments in games like that.”
Bryant scored 22 points while playing on an injured right foot
for the Lakers, whose loaded lineup produced a largely passionless
second-half effort in front of a sellout crowd expecting to see a
super team capable of contending for the franchise’s 17th
championship – a fact acknowledged by Bryant when he addressed the
fans before the game.
”As you know, we have a lot of expectations this season,”
Bryant said. ”We’re trying to live up to the expectations. We’re
trying to bring another championship back to where it belongs, back
to Los Angeles.”
Instead, the Lakers showed how much work they will have to do to
challenge Miami and the NBA’s best.
”It’s not the way we wanted it to go,” said Pau Gasol, who led
the Lakers with 23 points and 13 rebounds. ”We know it’s not going
to happen for us right away, but we’ve just got to stick with
Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and Rodrigue Beaubois scored 11
points apiece for the Mavericks, who snapped a six-game skid
against the Lakers over the past two seasons.
”It’s a great win,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. ”If you
execute in this league and have talent, you have a chance to win,
and we did that. The Lakers are going to be fine. They’ve got a lot
of new guys and a new system, but we were opportunistic tonight and
got the job done.”
Dallas also contained Howard by using his career-long free-throw
ineptitude against him – hardly a novel strategy, but one that
worked particularly well when combined with Howard’s opening-night
nerves. The Lakers were 12 for 31 altogether from the free-throw
line, including Jordan Hill’s 1-for-6 effort – a major factor in
their inability to close the gap on Dallas in the second half.
”I’ve just got to stop thinking so much and get up there and
make them,” Howard said.
Jae Crowder scored eight points in his NBA debut for the
Mavericks, who are likely to be without Nowitzki for at least six
more weeks while the German superstar recovers from arthroscopic
knee surgery. Dallas also played without new center Chris Kaman,
yet had little trouble matching up with the Lakers down low.
”It was energy and effort tonight for us,” Marion said. ”We
were resilient, we kept coming, and we did what we needed to do to
get a win.”
NOTES: Dallas opened its season on the road for the first time
since 2007. The Mavericks had opened the season against the Lakers
three previous times, losing all three games. … Howard was called
for a flagrant foul in the third quarter for hammering Brand on an
open shot in the lane. … Katy Perry, Russell Brand, Floyd
Mayweather Jr., Adam Levine, Jon Cryer and Los Angeles Galaxy stars
David Beckham and Robbie Keane attended the game.