LOS ANGELES – Go ahead, hop back on the Roddy Beaubois bandwagon.
Hey, a little hesitation is certainly understandable. After all, this is the third consecutive season that the Mavs are pumping up Roddy B. as being primed for a breakout year. And he didn’t exactly do anything to back up that kind of talk during a poor preseason.
But Beaubois excelled under the bright lights in L.A. – and that’s a major sign of progress for a flashy guard who has frequently shrunk on big stages. On opening night, Beaubois at least temporarily hushed all the concern about the Mavs’ backup point guard situation with 17 spectacular minutes in the Mavs’ win over the Lakers.
Beaubois, the former first-round pick in the final season of his rookie deal, scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting and dished out five assists without committing a turnover. His strip of Steve Nash in the backcourt, leading to a breakaway layup, epitomized the up-tempo, scrappy, aggressive style coach Rick Carlisle is demanding of his Dirk-less team.
“Roddy might have been the key guy in the game,” Carlisle said. “He went in and kept the tempo going and then he made timely offensive and defensive plays. Tonight I thought he showed what he was capable of doing at the point guard position in our system.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ season-opening upset:
1. Wright on: It was anticipated that Eddy Curry would start at center with Chris Kaman nursing his strained right calf, but Brandan Wright jumped the opening tip instead. Wright made it look like a smart move by Rick Carlisle.
Wright, who primarily defended Pau Gasol with Elton Brand banging with Dwight Howard, had 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting, five rebounds and three blocked shots in 19 minutes.
“Coach said before the game, ‘Just do what you do best,’ which is athleticism, playing hard, blocking shots, running the court,” Wright said. “That’s what it came down to.”
The starting center job will be decided on a game-by-game basis, at least until Kaman is ready.
“We’ll just flow with it,” Wright said. “As long as we’re winning, playing hard and playing well, we’re good to go with it.”
2. A little help from their foe: Give the Mavs credit for a long list of things they did to make life difficult for the Lakers in the season opener. Just don’t include free throw defense on the list.
Nevertheless, the Lakers’ historically horrible outing from the line greatly helped the Mavs’ cause. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Lakers’ 12-of-31 shooting from the line was the worst in a game by any team with at least 30 attempts since 1985.
3. Wanna fight?: Mouthy Mavs owner Mark Cuban misses the good, ol’ days in L.A., when he exchanged verbal jabs with Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson.
“I thought I had a sparring partner this summer, but that all kind of fell apart,” Cuban said, referring to his brief back-and-forth with Deron Williams. “I miss Shaq and Phil Jackson. I really do.
“The days of having a bucket boy, that was kind of special. Shaq telling me I got lucky and me telling Shaq I loved how he planned to grow 7 foot tall, I mean, those were true sparring battles that were fun. I don’t know, we’ll see. Hopefully someone will pick on me and I can fight back.”