Kobe Bryant vs. Dallas Mavericks - 10.30.12

Kobe Bryant lays in two against Dallas.

Not too much was made of the Lakers’ 0-8 preseason record, for the very reason that the games meant nothing. But after Tuesday’s season-opening embarrassing loss 99-91 to the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, one has to wonder if maybe there isn’t more to worry about.

Once again on Tuesday the Lakers struggled to find any consistency offensively or defensively, looking very much like a team that hasn’t played together long. After leading early in the second quarter 33-25, they did little right after that, as the injury-depleted Mavericks rallied and took a 48-46 lead into halftime after strong play from their bench. For the game, Dallas’ bench outscored the Lakers’ 37-17.

In the second half, things didn’t go much better, as the Lakers found themselves down by as many as 15 points several times, and they never made much of a run at any point. The final score and stats really aren’t indicative of how poorly they played, except for the pathetic 12-31 (38.7%) from the free throw line, which included a 3-14 night from Dwight Howard, making his Laker regular season debut.

One of the few bright spots for the Lakers was the play of Pau Gasol who led all players with 23 points to go along with 13 rebounds and six assists. Kobe Bryant, who didn’t practice all week due to a strained foot, played, and hit 11-14 from the floor en route to 22 points. Dwight Howard did score 19 to go along with 10 rebounds, but struggled all night to get into the flow of the game, and eventually fouled out with about two minutes left.

Dallas didn’t have anyone dominate the game, but got solid performances from several players, and had six players in double figures. Newcomer Darren Collison led Dallas with 17 points on 8-12 from the field. Brandan Wright, starting for the injured Chris Kaman, scored 14 on 5-5 from the floor. O.J. Mayo had 12, and Shawn Marion had 11 points and nine rebounds. Remember the Mavericks are also playing without All-Star forward Dirk Nowitsky.

The Lakers did manage to shoot 49.4% from the floor, but were a miserable 3-13 (23.1%) from beyond the arc, with Steve Nash, also making his Laker debut, hitting just 1-4 from distance. They did cut down on the turnovers that plagued the team in the preseason, as they committed only 14 miscues. They did also outrebound Dallas 46-40.

The Lakers will try to bounce back tomorrow in an arena they always struggle at, the Rose Garden in Portland, when they take on the Trail Blazers in the second game of a back-to-back.