Mavericks 99, Lakers 91

Jon Gold, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers discovered on opening night that four superstars does not a team make.
The Dallas Mavericks, meanwhile, discovered life without their one star isn't quite so glum.
With Dirk Nowitzki out after knee surgery, Dallas marched into Staples Center and spoiled the Lakers debuts of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, taking a 99-91 win Tuesday.
It was no Dirk, no matter for the Mavericks, who offered a united front in dismissing Los Angeles.
Dallas had six players score in double figures, led by Darren Collison, who had 17 points. Three more Mavericks contributed at least seven points in the balanced effort.
Brandan Wright had 14 points for Dallas, hitting all five of his shots from the floor.
After being outscored 29-25 in the first quarter, Dallas outscored Los Angeles in each of the remaining three quarters.
Nash and Howard joined Lakers mainstays Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol during the offseason.
Howard scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and added 10 rebounds, but Nash managed just seven points on 3-of-9 shooting and had only four assists.
Bryant, who played despite a foot injury, had 22 points but only one rebound and no assists.
Gasol led all players with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Los Angeles' biggest perceived weakness is a less-than-spectacular bench, and reserve play proved to be an issue in the opener. The Mavericks' backups outscored the Lakers' backups 37-17.
With Nowitzki sidelined for three to six weeks, the Mavericks turned to a rather unheralded roster, spreading the wealth.
Dallas took a 48-46 halftime lead as hometown hero Collison returned to Southern California to lead the team with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The Mavericks also got 22 first-half bench points to Los Angeles' nine.
O.J. Mayo and rookie Jae Crowder added eight points each before the half for the Mavericks, who connected on 21 of 47 shots.
Gasol led all scorers in the first half with 12 points, and Bryant connected on five of six shots for 10 points.
The heavily anticipated debuts of Nash and Howard were relatively quiet early. Nash had five points and two assists in the first half, while Howard added nine points and five rebounds.
NOTES: Dallas center Chris Kaman joined the team for the road trip, unlike Nowtizki, but he did not play because of a strained right calf. He also won't play Wednesday in Utah because of the injury. On average, Kaman has missed more than 30 games per year over the past five seasons. ... Los Angeles swept last season's series with the Mavericks 4-0. ... The Lakers opened the season at home for the seventh consecutive year.

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