Nowitzki-less Mavericks upset talent-laden Lakers
Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Guard Darren Collison scored 17 points to lead three other starters in double digits as the Dirk Nowitzki-less Dallas Mavericks upset the talent-laden Los Angeles Lakers, 99-91, Tuesday in their regular-season opener at Staples Center.
Collison made eight of 12 shots while Brandan Wright added 14 points, OJ Mayo had 12 and Shawn Marion 11 as the Mavericks played their first game without Nowitzki, who will miss six weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
Vince Carter and Rodigue Beaubois scored 11 points apiece off the bench for the Mavericks while center Eddy Curry had seven points and four rebounds.
“It was going to be a collective effort against a front line like this,” Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “We were really persistent. Everyone had each other’s backs, and we played it out.”
Elton Brand was the only starter who failed to score in double digits with eight points but had 11 rebounds against the taller Lakers frontline, composed of Pau Gasol and newly acquired center Dwight Howard.
The 6-9 Brand even outrebounded the 6-11 Howard, who had just 10 caroms and 19 points in his first regular-season game for the Lakers but missed 11 foul shots.
Gasol paced Los Angeles with 23 points and 13 rebounds, Kobe Bryant scored 22 despite an injured left foot but another newcomer Steve Nash was a big disappointment in his Lakers’ debut, scoring just seven points and issuing four assists.
“Our guys started thinking a little too much and our execution wasn’t quite there to start the game,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said.
Brown added the team lacked defense, especially in the second half where the Mavericks took a 93-77 lead in the fourth quarter behind a three-point play by Wright.
“We have to remember that we need to be solid defensively, no matter what happens on the other end,” Gasol added.
Mayo sank two foul shots to give the Mavs a 98-82 lead with less than two minutes left before the Lakers closed the game with a 9-1 run to cut the lead to eight as time expired.
“Just because we have a talented team it’s not gonna just click. It takes time. Just got to continue to stay focused,” Howard said.