Below is a running diary of L.A.’s regular season opener against Dallas on Tuesday night at Staples Center, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Dallas: D. Collison, O. Mayo, S. Marion, E. Brand, B. Wright
12:00 At long last, the baritone of Lawrence Tanter belted out the following starting line up: Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. No. 24 had been a question mark throughout the week after hurting his foot against Sacramento on Oct. 21, but there he was starting the action. Before two minutes had passed, we already had a triple from Nash and a hook from Howard to give L.A. an early lead.
6:00 L.A.’s offense was clicking pretty well early, 7 of 12 FG’s going down led by Bryant’s 3 of 4, with the Mavs unsure where to focus their attention. It’s going to take a while for everything to really hum, but the pieces fit so nicely. Other highlights to close the quarter for Gasol (playing with the second unit of Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill) spinning around Eddy Curry for a layup before draining a J, Meeks hitting his first three in purple and gold, and Jamison beautifully finding Hill for a transition dunk.
0:00 The purple and gold took a 29-25 lead out of the period, hitting 13 of 22 shots behind 10 assists and only two turnovers, allowing just two fast break points and generally playing well. Dallas hit some tough shots (O.J. Mayo was 3 of 4, Collison 3 of 5) and the Lakers missed some open ones, yet retained control.
7:18 With Howard missing his fourth and fifth free throws, Dallas found some momentum at the other end, getting five straight points from Roddy Beaubois (a three and a layup after stripping Nash in the backcourt) to cap a 12-2 run, allowing a 37-35 lead. Bryant and Gasol returned after a time out.
0:00 The free throw line continued to plague the Lakers, Gasol missing two of his six and MWP 1 of 2 (5 of 13 as a team), and the Mavs took advantage of six turnovers for eight points. As such, we had a 48-46 Mavs lead heading into the half, despite 55.9 percent shooting from L.A. and 43.5 percent from Dallas.
5:34 It wasn’t a pretty start to the second half for the home team, as the Mavs made 7 of 9 shots – mostly from the perimeter – to take a 7-point lead, before two Gasol free throws got the Spaniard to a game-high 16 points. That was until he found Bryant for field goal No. 9 on 10 attempts, Kobe with 18 on Gasol’s fourth dime … yet the problem was on D.
0:00 A 26-20 quarter win for Dallas produced an 8-point lead into the final quarter, L.A.’s defense continuing to struggle to stop the Mavs from getting good looks. The effort wasn’t terrific for an LAL squad looking a bit confused on that end, and in fairness, they’d barely all played together with a healthy group in the preseason. Nonetheless, they had 12 minutes to erase what had been a forgettable night…
11:21 And Jamison got them off on the right foot, converting a tough, driving and-1 (his free throw improving L.A. to 45.8 percent from the line) … but Dallas answered with a Shawn Marion and-1 at the other end to keep the margin at eight.
2:52 The energy improved on the defensive end, as it certainly had to, but the Lakers still couldn’t get anything going – let alone cut the deficit – as Dallas led 95-82. After a 29-point first period, L.A. had scored 17, 20 and 16 points, while allowing the Mavs to approach 50 percent from the field despite a slowish first quarter (45 percent). It’s going to take some time for L.A. to gel, the starters literally playing only one game together in the preseason, but Dallas hadn’t had much time with their line up, either (Dirk and Kaman hurt). More than anything, Dallas played loose and the Lakers tight.
0:00 The final in a tough opener for the Lakers, who ultimately fell 99-91 after some late production from Gasol (23 points, 13 boards, six assists, three blocks). They have little time to stew, flying to Portland after the buzzer for the Blazers home opener on Halloween. We’ll see you there.