THE FACTS: With their best player, Dirk Nowitzki, sidelined for at least another month following knee surgery and another key starter, center Chris Kaman, out with a pulled calf muscle, the Mavericks weren't expected to put up a fight Tuesday night against the re-tooled Lakers. That information obviously wasn't passed along to the Mavericks, who continuously poked holes in L.A.'s defense while pulling away in the second half for a 99-91 season-opening victory at Staples Center.
QUOTABLE: "We were opportunistic."
-- Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
THE STAT: The Lakers can place a lot of blame on themselves for starting the season 0-1 and frustrating their optimistic crowd. Simply put, they shot 12-for-31 from the free-throw line. Dwight Howard, a 58.8 percent career free-throw shooter, was much worse than that in his Lakers debut, shooting just 3-for-14 from the stripe. Howard is the first member of the Lakers to shoot 25 percent or less from the line with a minimum of 10 attempts since 2004.
TURNING POINT: Dallas point guard Darren Collison drained a pull-up jumper with 1.4 seconds remaining in the first half, giving the Mavericks the lead for good, 48-46. Kobe Bryant banked in a shot with five minutes left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to three, but Dallas followed with a 6-0 run and the Lakers never got closer than five the rest of the way.
HOT: After coming over from Indiana in the offseason, Collison had an impressive debut for the Mavericks. The Southern California native scored a team-high 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting and helped limit Lakers point guard Steve Nash to seven points and four assists in his debut as well. That was the first time the eight-time All Star has been held to less than 10 points and five assists while playing at least 20 minutes.
NOT: Nash made the first shot of the game for the Lakers, a 3-pointer after Howard missed a dunk, made his second attempt but then shot 1-for-7 the rest of the way. That was more productive then fellow starter Metta World Peace, who shot 1-for-8 and scored three points.
QUOTABLE II: "Our guys started thinking a little too much and our execution wasn't quite there like it was to start the game."
-- Lakers coach Mike Brown
GOOD MOVE: Dallas coach Rick Carlisle made a late change and inserted Brandan Wright into the starting lineup at center, then brought Eddy Curry off the bench. Curry, who was claimed off waivers late last week and had played in just 24 NBA games in the last four years, seemed better equipped to run with the second unit and finished with seven points and four rebounds in 17 minutes.
BAD MOVE: Jordan Hill was one of the more active players for the Lakers, finishing with nine points and five rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench. But after the Lakers cut the deficit to five on a 3-point play by Antawn Jamison at the start of the fourth quarter, he couldn't keep Shawn Marion from dribbling around him and dunking for a three-point play. That pushed the lead back to eight and took the air out of the crowd.
NOTABLE: The Mavericks had six players score in double figures and nine finished with seven points or more.
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Wednesday @ Portland, Friday @ L.A. Clippers, Sunday vs. Detroit. For the Mavericks, Wednesday @ Utah, Saturday vs. Charlotte, Monday vs. Portland.