- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- Derek Fisher’s debut with the Dallas Mavericks was a success despite his cringe-inducing line in the box score.
These were the only numbers Fisher cared about Saturday night: Mavs 92, Pistons 77.
“The best part about tonight is our team won the game,” Fisher said.
Fisher looked like a lot like a 38-year-old point guard playing his first game of the season. He scored two points on 1-of-8 shooting with his only bucket coming on a goaltending call, dished out three assists, came up with a couple of steals and committed three turnovers in 24 minutes as the Mavs’ starting point guard.
It wasn’t pretty. It was effective enough against a Detroit team that is 1-10 on the road this season.
“I didn’t feel like physically I couldn’t keep up,” Fisher said. “But basketball is a game of timing and rhythm. Obviously playing with a new team, understanding spots on the floor, where shots are going to come from, understanding time and score, who you’re out there on the floor with, there’s a lot to think about and process.
“So I won’t worry about how I’m looking individually. It’s really just more so how I can impact this team in a positive way.”
Coach Rick Carlisle made sure to note that Fisher was a “significant plus” in the game, referring to the fact that the Mavs outscored the Pistons by 12 with Fisher on the floor.
That’s what the Mavs had in mind when they signed the 17-year vet who has always been known much more for intangibles like toughness and intelligence than numbers. Having said that, there will be nights that the Mavs need Fisher to score some points to go along with his poise.
“It’s going to take some time for him to get his legs,” Carlisle said.
Of course, the Mavs didn’t really sign Fisher for his legs. They needed his head.
For all his flashes, Darren Collison is simply too inconsistent to earn Carlisle’s trust to run the team on a regular basis. Collison doesn’t like it, but that’s why he was stripped of his starting job so early in the season, prompting the Mavs to get a deal done with five-time NBA champion Fisher.
“I think as hard as I worked over the offseason, I’m disappointed by the whole situation, how the whole situation went down,” said Collison, who had five points and eight assists off the bench in the win over the Pistons. “But I’m a team guy. I just want us to win. Whatever it takes for us to win, we’ll do that.”
The Dallas decision-makers determined that it took Collison being demoted to a backup role with a savvy veteran in the starting lineup. The hope is that the speedy Collison can flourish against second units, and occasionally play in a small backcourt along with Fisher, much like J.J. Barea’s role during the Mavs’ championship run.
With all due respect to Collison, the arrival of Fisher was a welcome sight for the vets in the Mavs’ locker room.
“He’s a heady veteran,” said Elton Brand, one of Saturday night’s stars with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. “Definitely knows how to play. There’s no shot he hasn’t seen, no situation he hasn’t seen. Just being out there being solid helped us out a lot.”
Just imagine how much a help Fisher might be if he actually puts up any numbers of note.