The Los Angeles Lakers could not over come a sloppy, sluggish start and the Dallas Mavericks took full advantage downing the defending champion Lakers 94-80 before a stunned silent Staples Center crowd.
Wow. Who knew the Mavericks could play defense?
Early foul trouble for both Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest forced Lakers head coach Phil Jackson to make abnormal substitutions and the Lakers were not able to find their stroke after a spirited first quarter that ended with Dallas nursing a slim three point lead.
Soon after the start of the second quarter, Dallas began to click on the defensive and offensive glass, building on the three point first quarter lead, taking a seven point lead into the half. Ball handling miscues caused in part by mental lapses and a stifling Dallas zone helped contribute to the Lakers' demise in the first half.
After the break, the real Lakers must have been kidnapped by early-bird trick-or-treaters because the team that showed up to play the second stanza of the game were not the champions of last season and they surely did not play like a team that will win anywhere near 72 plus games this season. Dallas' slim seven point lead would be short-lived, eventually exploding into double digits, thanks in part to poor Lakers shooting from the 3-pt arc (7-23, 30.4%) and a pedestrian free-throw shooting performance (9-14, 64.3%).
Regardless of who the team the Mavericks were playing in purple and gold, Dallas did not let up and Coach Carlisle's offensive attack helped keep the Lakers off-balance.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points and the Dallas Mavericks were 25 of 32 from the free throw line. Nowitzki also tossed in 10 of 11 from the charity stripe and grabbed 10 rebounds, Shawn Marion added 18 points and Jason Terry 16 to end the Mavs' six-game losing streak against the defending NBA champions.
Playing their second straight game without the services of venerable power forward Pau Gasol, no one outside of Kobe Bryant (20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists) on the Laker's bench could find their game. The Mavericks again used this to their advantage and were able to further frustrate Kobe and his mates forcing 19 turnovers on 39.5% shooting from the field.
Kobe's supporting cast must have been ghosts in a past life because they were all invisible on the court. Odom had a pitiful 10 points, 6 points, 7 assists, 5 turnovers; Fisher had a minuscule 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 fouls; Artest had a gut-wrenching 3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 turnovers, 5 fouls, and 1 technical.
The Mavericks would push their lead 22 points before the Lakers made a vicious 12-2 run to cut the lead to 14 points but again Dallas would not be denied and increased their defensive pressure clamping down on Kobe to thwart any perceived run by the Lakers to secure their first victory of the season.
The Mavericks last won against the Lakers at Staples Center March 11, 2007.