How it happened: Asked how the Dallas Mavericks could survive the absence of their only star, coach Rick Carlisle said the Mavericks needed to be a team of go-to guys.
That looks like a pretty smart solution after the Mavs’ shockingly convincing win over the Los Angeles Lakers, a loaded team considered by many to be the Western Conference favorites.
All nine Mavericks who played double-digit minutes scored at least seven points. Six scored in double figures: Darren Collison (17 points), Brandan Wright (14), O.J. Mayo (12), Rodrigue Beaubois (11), Shawn Marion (11) and Vince Carter (11).
The undersized Mavs, missing two 7-foot starters, managed to be respectable in the rebounding department and prevented the Lakers’ All-Star frontcourt duo from dominating in the paint. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol combined for 42 points, a respectable total but one the Mavs could live with considering Wright made his first start at center and Eddy Curry played significant minutes less than a week after being claimed off of waivers.
The out-of-sync Lakers’ shooting woes certainly helped the Mavs’ cause. L.A. was 3-of-13 from 3-point range and 12-of-31 from the line.
What it means: Maybe we ought to wait a little bit before counting the Mavs’ lottery pingpong balls or penciling in the Lakers as the West champs. The national buzz will be all about what the Lakers did wrong and L.A.’s embryonic chemistry, but the Mavs managed to convincingly beat a star-studded squad with Dirk Nowitzki watching from his couch in Dallas and Chris Kaman wearing a suit while sitting next to Mark Cuban behind the bench. This was an awfully impressive opener for a Mavs team that entered the season with the lowest external expectations in a dozen years.
Play of the game: After catching the ball on the left wing, Marion blew by Antawn Jamison with a baseline drive and dunked over Jordan Hill despite a foul. The and-1 slam answered a Jamison three-point play that opened fourth-quarter scoring and quieted a Staples Center crowd searching for a reason to get fired up.
Stat of the night: Collison surpassed Mavs point guard predecessor Jason Kidd’s 2011-12 season-high scoring total (15 points) at the 6:31 mark of the third quarter.