In a stunning turn of events to open the 2012/13 regular season, the undermanned Dallas Mavericks knocked off the newly revamped Los Angeles Lakers 99-91 at Staples Center Tuesday night.
Dallas played without Chris Kaman and Dirk Nowitzki who were both out of the lineup nursing injuries. Brandon Wright (14 points, 5 for 5 from the field, 3 blocks) and Elton Brand (8 points, 11 rebounds) replaced them in the starting unit.
Leading the way for the Mavericks was point guard Darren Collison, who scored 17 points on 8 for 12 shooting. He also pitched in 4 assists and 2 steals.
Dwight Howard and Steve Nash both made their regular season debuts for the Lakers. Howard finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds (he fouled out late in the game), while Nash struggled to shoot the ball as he ended the night with just 7 points on 3 of 9 shooting.
Despite not playing at 100%, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant still had quite the productive night, hitting 11 of his 14 shots on route to 22 points. Pau Gasol led all Lakers scorers with 23 points. He also contributed 13 rebounds and 6 assists.
L.A outshot the Mavericks (49% compared to 47%) and out-rebounded them (46-40 on the boards) as well.
So why did the Lakers lose this game?
The team couldn’t hit a free throw to save their life. Los Angeles shot a dismal 12 for 31 from the charity stripe, which is equivocal to 38%. Most of the blame can be placed on Dwight Howard’s shoulders as far as that is concerned. He hit just 3 of his 14 attempts from the line.
If the Lakers hit 10 more free throws (22 for 31 instead), they win this ball game, plain and simple.
The Mavericks bench also outscored the Lakers second-unit 37 to 17. The Lakers bench wasn’t terrible (a combined 7 for 15), but they didn’t contribute enough offensively to help the team on this night. One of the biggest criticisms heading into the season was how weak the bench appears to be. Tonight’s efforts didn’t help put that to rest.
Should the L.A Lakers be worried?
Adding the preseason totals to tonight’s loss, the Lakers are now 0-9 to begin the year. Should they be worried about that record?
A little bit. Despite all of the all-star talent on this roster, there are still to many new faces and to many different styles to just mesh perfectly overnight. This is clearly a work in progress that is going to need some time to get things right and on the right track.
It’s got to be disheartening though that the team couldn’t pull out a victory at home on opening night against a team that was missing its best player. The Mavericks were ripe for the picking and Los Angeles couldn’t take advantage of that. With Brandon Wright, Elton Brand and the infamous Eddy Curry manning the front court for Dallas, the bigs of L.A should have had a field day (which I suppose by looking at the numbers, they did). It still wasn’t enough though.
A lot of credit must be given to the Dallas Mavericks for pulling out a huge upset on a night which the Lakers were heavily favoured to win. Dallas got 7 or more points from 9 different players on the roster. Everyone contributed. This win will be a huge confidence boost moving forward as the team continues to play without Dirk Nowitzki, who could be missing another month or so.
The Lakers next game takes place Halloween night in Portland against the Trail Blazers. Dallas travels to Salt Lake City to do battle with the Utah Jazz.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports