- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES – The Mavericks might as well be the Washington Generals. The glitzy, loaded Los Angeles Lakers are playing the role of the Harlem Globetrotters.
At least, that’s how Tuesday night’s season opener at the Staples Center is expected to go down.
The hype is all about the new-look Lakers. It’s about one of the premier passers of all-time (Steve Nash) and the NBA’s best big man (Dwight Howard) joining championship cornerstones Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
“They’ve got at least three Hall of Famers in their starting lineup and maybe more with the career Gasol has had,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Look, they’ve got a great roster. They’ve got a lot of size. They’ve got a lot of credentials. We’ve got a group that’s unproven, if I’m going to be honest.
“This is a great opportunity for us. That’s the way I look at it. So we’re going to go in there with guns blazing and throw the kitchen sink at them.”
Records: Mavs (0-0); Lakers (0-0)
When: 9:30 p.m.
Where: Staples Center
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Mavs’ most aggravating on-court issue during the preseason was probably rebounding. That could be a major problem against the Lakers with Howard, Gasol and Metta World Peace forming one of the biggest, most physical frontlines in the league. The Eddy Curry-Howard matchup is about as big a mismatch as could be on paper.
Key matchup: Darren Collison vs. Steve Nash – The Mavs need Collison to take a significant step after being a solid starter in Indiana. His quickness could give the 38-year-old Nash, who has never been known for his defense, fits. Of course, if Collison blows by Nash, he’ll have to deal with the three-time Defensive Player of the Year protecting the paint. And Collison will certainly have his hands full defending Nash, although Nash was somewhat tentative while trying to get to know his new teammates during the Lakers’ winless preseason.
Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) and C Chris Kaman (strained right calf) are out; G Jared Cunningham (thumb) is questionable. Lakers – Kobe Bryant (foot) is questionable.
Up next: at Utah Jazz, 8 p.m. Wednesday
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