Perhaps at the conclusion of the Association’s 82-game schedule, Tuesday night’s match-up between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center, will just be a barely remembered foot note. For at least one night however, Mavericks fans can once again shout “We’re Number One,” as the short-handed team from Dallas, defeated the Lakers in the opening game of the campaign by a final total of 99-91. They say that a wounded animal is a dangerous creature and the Mavericks went into the contest without their leader All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, or new starting center Chris Kaman; both sidelined by injuries. However, without their two big men, the Mavericks pulled together as a team, with a balanced scoring effort to beat Los Angeles.
Darren Collison led six Dallas players in double-figures in the contest, as he dropped 17 points in the contest; with four of the five starters scoring at least 11 points for the night, while Elton Brand would make up for his eight points, by grabbing 11 rebounds. The victory was a testament to the players and Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle; as the Lakers expected to spank their opponents with their revamped roster.
Pau Gasol led the way for the home-team, as he racked up a double-double with 23 points and 13 boards. Kobe Bryant would score 22 points while new Lakers center Dwight Howard also recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. They would be the only members of their team to crack the double-digit barrier, with Steve Nash making an inauspicious debut; with just seven points and four assists.
Los Angeles came out of the gates looking strong and held a 29-25 advantage at the end of the first period. Their offense would abandon them however in the second and third quarters, as the visitors outscored them by a 49-37 margin. The Lakers recovered their shooting touch in the fourth, but it was too little too late as they never could get closer to the Mavericks than trailing by seven points in the final quarter.
Both teams will be playing road games on Wednesday night, as the Mavericks head to Utah, to take on the Jazz while the Lakers will attempt to get their first win of the campaign, up the coast, traveling to Portland to face the Trail Blazers.