Struggling Lakers lose opener to Nowitzki-less Mavericks

LOS ANGELES (Sporting Alert) — The Los Angeles Lakers superstars flopped on the opening night of the new NBA season as the loaded group fell 99-91 to the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center Tuesday.

The Lakers, which went winless in preseason, added another defeat to the column against a Mavericks team playing without its best player, Dirk Nowitzki, who is out injured.

Darren Collison scored 17 points and Brandan Wright added 14 points and five rebounds in the win for Dallas, which was also without center Chris Kaman.

O.J. Mayo had 12 points, Shawn Marion contributed 11 points and nine rebounds, while Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter both finished 11 points.

Pau Gasol led the scoring for the Lakers with 23 points and also pulled down 13 rebounds and six assist.

Kobe Bryant, playing “85 percent fit” had 22 points and star center Dwight Howard scored 19 points and 10 boards, but was only 4 of 14 from the free throw line.

New point guard Steve Nash played 34 minutes and had seven points, four assists and two rebounds for a Lakers team clearly struggling to blend the new combination of talents.

”It’s not an excuse, but it will all come with time,” Howard told reporters.

”We haven’t had an opportunity to really play together as much as we want, but we’re going to get it. … We’re going to chip away, and we’re going to get better.”

Nash acknowledged that the team has a lot of work to do.

”It’s growing pains, and it’s a struggle,” Nash said. ”We’re out of sync, and we’re going to probably have some more moments in games like that.”

By Michael London, Contributor

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