Game Notes: Mavs at Lakers
Twelve for 31, which is 38.7 percent, which is what it sounds like when doves cry.
by Ben Collins
Mavericks 99, Lakers 91
Ruh-roh. Trouble in 82-0ville.
The Lakers lost their opener. Free throw problems, mostly. They made 12 and missed 19. The summer’s biggest get, Dwight Howard, missed nine himself. The offense was weird, too, but it’s all understandable. Free throws are fixable. Panic wouldn’t really exist unless, well, somebody panicked.
It didn’t even seem all that bad, really, until Dwight stepped into the locker room after the game, saw 10 or so cameras, and immediately bolted.
Then he took off through another door. Panic.
Now Metta World Peace is the calmest one in this locker room, spinning yarns while reporters hang out, waiting for Dwight to come back. This is not a good sign. Math says he’s not coming back. It’s 11:00. Flight leaves at 11:45, whiteboard says. Media firestorm begins now, media says.
Good for Dwight. He’s talked into coming back. He’s quiet, reticent, fair.
“I’ve gotta stop thinking so much. It’ll come with time,” he says. “It’s one game. It’s all about flow. Sometimes we tense up. We’ve gotta stay positive. We’ll be fine.”
Then he says this on his flagrant in the third quarter, a frustration foul on Elton Brand.
“No easy layups.”
Oh my God. A joke. He’s telling a joke!
This whole situation could’ve been a thing. This is not a thing.
Best assist of the night goes to Steve Nash, by the way, who kept the media busy for 25 (yes, twenty-five) minutes until the crowd around Dwight’s locker petered out a little.
That was problem No. 2, by the way. I don’t remember any of Steve Nash’s other assists. He would go entire possessions without touching the ball, or receive it at the elbow and abandon ship, or start his pick-and-roll in the middle of dead stillness at the end of a shot clock. He even got picked clean bringing the ball up the floor.
True full moon stuff. Seven and four in—get this—34 minutes. And it’s because of what you think.
Kobe was on a date with himself and he brought along three third wheels. I mean, I would be, too, if I was 8-for-9 to start and 10-for-13 overall. Especially if my teammates were having the worst statistical free-throw shooting game since 1985.
But here’s the thing: The Lakers are currently 0-and-9 in this configuration if you count the preseason. You shouldn’t, obviously, but you should count the month that Mike Brown had to put in an offense and didn’t.
At some point he has to be held accountable for giving one of his players the keys to the house and leaving everybody else to climb in through the window.
Lost in all of this is the borderline valiant patchwork win by Dallas, a team pieced together with spare parts made to looks sensible, whole. Rick Carlisle looks like a Mayan in a locust storm compared to Mike Brown after that second half.
He was Playoff-win proud in the hallway, and he should’ve been.
“We were really persistent. Everybody had each other’s backs. We’re going to have to be an unrelenting team in all situations,” he said. “Tonight, we made strides. I was really happy for the guys that they put together a collective effort like this.”
To call their big man situation ragtag would be disrespectful to Goodwill. They’re yesterday’s meat, and he got starter quality out of all of ‘em. The Mavs started a lanky 4 at center, Brandan Wright, and he didn’t miss a shot. Fourteen points, five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Elton Brand, who is still being paid by the Philadelphia 76ers to go away from them, scored 8 and 11 and got Dwight Howard to foul out. At 33, he played 36 minutes and some Kryptonite defense, and drew two charges away from the ball.
Then Eddy Curry. Did Eddy exceed Rick Carlisle’s expectations?
“Eddy Curry.” He’s on your team.
“No, he’s very capable of playing like this. I think he can even play better. He’s got upside, even though he’s a 29-year-old guy.”
Eddy Curry, who hasn’t played an NBA minute in three years and a meaningful minute in four years, had 7 and 4. And he got whatever he wanted against Pau Gasol.
“When Mark Cuban sees something in you, and he brings you in, and he says, ‘Maybe I can reboot him a little bit,’ you believe it,” says Curry.
The point guards were fast, stellar, reliable. Emergency backup point guard Roddy Beaubois was “the key guy in the game.” Darren Collison had a game-high 17.
It was a performance that should’ve made the Mavs look like the sexy, young, weird-collection-of-screwball-pieces team that they are.
This won’t be remembered at all because the Lakers had an off-night on the first night of a season with no room for off-nights.
Oh well. Dwight didn’t show up tonight, but he also didn’t not show up. That’s just as important.
Oh, and Pau Gasol is on the Lakers. Didn’t even get into that.
- No Eddy Curry in the starting lineup because that was just a sick joke all along, it turns out.
- Mavs’ lineup: Collison, Mayo, Marion, Brand, Wright. Lakers lineup: Steve Blake five times.
- First Lakers possession: Metta iso. Your wildest dreams have come true.
- First Lakers points of the season come from a Steve Nash second chance three. 3-0, LA.
- The Mavericks offense so far consists of various players chucking 15-foot floaters and screaming “Help me, Jesus!” Some of them are going in. 5-5.
- Pau Gasol drive and dish (seriously) to Dwight Howard. 13-9.
- Kobe’s getting creepy, Space Jam levels of elevation for a guy who’s been in the league for 17 years. 15-11.
- For the second year in a row, I just confused Vince Carter with Erick Dampier. I’m sure this is the exact look he’s going for.
- Eddy Curry’s in the game. By these first two possessions, I’m setting the over/under on a Dwight Howard poster at 12 possessions.
- “This is OJ Mayo’s team,” they said, before they together engulfed themselves in flames. 19-18, Mavericks.
- Vince Carter jawing with Dwight Howard about where the nearest Fatburger is. Vince Carter is right. Two free throws fror Howard. He has 7. 20-18, Lakers.
- Twitter search “Eddy Curry eat” right now. Seriously. Just do it.
- Well, the backcourt looks good. Collison steal and a bucket. He and Mayo have 14 of the Mavs’ 21. 22-21, Mavs.
- Bench squad’s in for LA, flanked by Pau, and they don’t remind you of the end of the movie Looper as anticipated. Jodie Meeks just nailed a contested three. 25-21, LA.
- Some world class giving up on defense there by Eddy Curry. Good God. 27-21, LA.
- Commence Rodrigue Beaubois mancrush anticipation fulfillment session.
- If you want to be reminded of what it’s like to get lost at Disney World when you’re 4 years old, watch Eddy Curry on a pick and roll. 33-25, Lakers.
- Dwight Howard’s 1-for-6 from the line. RESCIND THE TRADE. 35-32, Lakers.
- Beaubois three. Then backcourt steal and layup. Mancrush enhancing. May have to call my dad and ruin his Christmas after this one. 37-35, Dallas.
- The Mavericks’ identity so far is just a team that pisses you off with help defense, which is basically impossible to measure statistically. Except +/-, which everyone always undervalues. Stat dork out. 37-37.
- Jae Crowder continues doing his Dennis Rodman with a three-pointer thing he was doing all preseason. He has 8. 41-39.
- Mavs so far have an answer for the Howard-Nash pick-and-roll when Elton Brand is on the floor. Nash has been hitting his secondary option before Howard even rolls.
- Kobe with a nutty up-and-under. The story you’ll read in a paper tomorrow is that it’s still his team, and that wouldn’t be wrong. 45-42.
- Darren Collison beats the buzzer with a Mavs mini-run. 48-46, Mavs. This is not the shitshow I expected.
- Wait, Elton Brand has eight rebounds?
- Mock applause as Dwight Howard hits his second of eight free throws. You can do it, put your surgically repaired back into it. 49-48, Mavs.
- Steve Nash is getting eaten alive by Collison on defense and flustered by the slow pace on offense. 56-49, Dallas.
- Kobe’s had enough. Two straight Js. 56-53, Dallas.
- Flagrant on Dwight Howard for no real reason. Can’t even really tell why he did it, but he definitely did came down on Elton Brand on a fastbreak. Some real DeMarcus Cousins shit, there. 60-53, Dallas.
- Darren Collison and Kobe Bryant both have 16. On 19 shots combined. The holiest of cows. 62-57.
- They just ran this “get to know a player” thing about Robert Sacre and he made it abundantly clear he doesn’t intend on reading a book for the rest of his life.
- This Mayo/Kobe matchup is fascinating. Physical as hell and they’re not saying a word. Kobe wills in two more. 66-61, Dallas.
- This crowd is pissed that Eddy Curry is alive, let alone scoring baskets on Pau Gasol. 70-61. Curry has 7 and 4, and neither of those numbers are cheeseburgers.
- The Lakers are 9-20 (45 percent) at the free throw line after that Jordan Hill miss.
- I kind of weirdly like this Mavericks team. It does not make logical sense.
- Vince Carter tried to do one of those decade-defiers at the rim to the end quarter, but rejected. The Mavs will have to settle for a 74-66 lead, which didn’t seem possible two hours ago.
- Both teams are shooting 50 percent, by the way. The Mavs are just getting more possessions.
- Now Dwight gets some burn with the second unit.
- Antawn Jamison desperation floater+foul. Shawn Marion dribble-drive dunk+foul. All evens out. 77-69, Dallas.
- Dwight’s sort of invisible offensively, even with Blake/Hill/Meeks/Jamison out there with him.
- Eleven of twenty-six. Free throw line numbers for the Lakers. Yikes.
- 2002 Vince Carter with the well-defended stepback 20-footer. 79-69.
- Dallas is in the bonus with 9:40 left in the 4th. Fans want Kobe back in now. 83-71.
- Brandan Wright with the 14-foot back-foot floater plus the foul (??????????). 86-73, Dallas.
- Sure, it’s easy to blame Mike Brown for all the Lakers’ problems. But, in reality, Mike Brown is to blame for all the Lakers’ problems.
- I don’t know if you can hear someone in a crowd taking a cyanide pill, but if you can, I just heard it after that missed contested Metta three. 90-73, Dallas.
- Kobe was just like “eff this,” through the ball 50 feet in the air, and it went in. Mike Brown’s new offense! 90-77, Dallas.
- Remember, Kobe is 10-for-13 tonight and the Lakers are down 13.
- Game over. Brandan Wright again, this time on a dish from Collison. Lay-in plus foul. 93-77. He’s 5-of-5.
- There’s technically 5:38 left.
- Noisy mock applause when Dwight hits one of two. Three of twelve.
- Bit of a run. Dwight lay-in over Brand. 93-82.
- The Lakers got some real bad advice to double Darren Collison on the pick and roll. 95-82.
- Frustration offensive foul by Dwight on a clear-out. Wow.
- 2:19 left. Nobody’s here anymore. Work night.
- Dwight fouled out. Again on a push-off. Elton Brand’s his kryptonite.
- Paul Gasol vanity 3. Final: Mavericks 99, Lakers 91.