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Mavericks utilize Guerrilla Warfare; spoil Nash and Howard debuts

Oct 31, 2012, 3:26 AM EST

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Hanging out in the shadows cast by the debuts of Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, the Princeton Offense and the return of Kobe Bryant was the Dallas Mavericks, a team everyone assumed would play the role of wrestling jobber — hang around for a few minutes, show off a few moves, and then take that fall late in the match. No Dirk Nowitzki, no Chris Kaman and no star should have meant no chance, but the beautiful thing about opening night is that all is equal, even when it isn’t.

The lasting image of the night wasn’t a Howard dunk or a Nash lob, but rather second round draft pick Jae Crowder, all 6-foot-6 of him, shoving a forearm into the back of 7-foot Pau Gasol, battling a fight on the block that he shouldn’t have had a chance in. That was the story all game long, as the Mavericks pulled off the upset, 99-91.

You see, there are just some things most NBA teams cede to their opponent. Usually a point guard can come up the floor with very little pressure — maybe they get turned once, or have to go through their legs, but the pressure is token at best.

And when a 7-footer has a chance at an easy dunk? Usually undersized forwards don’t hack at their arms like they’re chopping down a tree. You give up the two points and live to fight another day.

These are like the little unwritten rules of NBA basketball. Most teams observe them.

The Dallas Mavericks do not.

The Lakers should have known they had a fight on their hands the second Darren Collison began to implement a one-man full court press, making Steve Nash work just to get the ball across half court. When Pau Gasol lobbed three straight passes to Dwight Howard over the top of the defense — only for a swarm of Mavs to come-a-hackin’ — that should have been an indicator of the night that was in store for the Lakers. Nothing easy, everything earned.

It actually ended up being the Lakers who made it too easy for the Mavs. There’s a reason post play in the NBA has fallen off drastically — it’s not as effective against today’s quicker defenses. The Princeton Offense, in it’s most optimal state, is supposed to present the Lakers with multiple options. It’s not a set of rigid plays — it’s a way to enable players to read and react. Problem was, the Lakers didn’t read and react — they had already predetermined what what they wanted to do based on their opponent’s size.

The Lakers saw the height of the Dallas big men, and went there repeatedly. Nevermind that Elton Brand is one of the best post defenders in the league — the Lakers just kept marching straight forward with chaos surrounding them from all sides, seemingly impervious to the fact that Dallas was happy to engage in this type of battle. This was the Mavs utilizing Guerrilla Warfare at its best, and Darren Collison (17 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds) running his team and controlling the tempo much better than Nash did.

Of course, there are a few reasons Lakers fans shouldn’t panic. The whole “first game together in a new system” thing is one, but even more importantly, the Lakers still hovered around 50 percent shooting from the field all night. Point the finger at the free throw shooting before anything else, as the team went 12-for-31 (38%) from the charity stripe. Yes, Howard is dreadful from the line, but that probably won’t happen again.

It’s also hard not to imagine a player as smart as Nash figuring out the balance between getting others involved and running his game in the pick-and-roll. The Lakers could benefit from a more varied attack offensively than they displayed tonight, but the inability to get back on defense is the more pressing issue. Steve Nash can only serve as a speed bump stopping the break, and the Lakers defense suddenly loses a lot of wallop when Dwight Howard is on the wrong side of halfcourt.

Was it a rocky start for the Lakers? Yes, but let’s wait and see how the Lakers look when they get to play their own game — just as soon as they find it.

  1. herlies - Oct 31, 2012 at 4:33 AM

    Only Kobe Bryant could play 35 minutes with Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol and somehow finish the game with zero assists.

    • mazblast - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      In Kobe’s world, passing is for other people.

  2. eventhorizon04 - Oct 31, 2012 at 4:45 AM

    So, a few thoughts:

    1. Kudos to the Dallas Mavericks. The story of the game wasn’t just, “The new-look Lakers lost.”
    It was also, “The new-look Dallas Mavericks won.” The Dallas Mavericks’ roster was completely revamped this offseason after the failed pursuit of Deron Williams. Coach Rick Carlisle had his new group of players playing good basketball at both ends, with disciplined defense and smart passing on offense.

    2. Witness the transition from some “experts” saying,
    “The Lakers won’t need time to gel like the Heat did since the new players on the Lakers don’t have overlapping roles like LeBron, Bosh, and Wade did” to
    “It’s just game 1, give the Lakers time to gel, just like the Heat needed!”

    3. Mike Brown’s Princeton Offense – Gotta love a system that leaves Metta World Peace with the same number of assists as Steve Nash (4). Heaven forbid a team leaves their offense in the hands of a Hall of Fame point guard.

    4. Sure, you could say that if the Lakers had made 10 more free throws, they would have won.
    Or, you could point out that the Dallas Mavericks were a 7th seed last year.
    And the Mavericks were playing without their best player (PF Dirk Nowitzki) and one of their starters (C Chris Kaman), so their front-court was especially weak and vulnerable to Gasol and Howard.
    And the Mavericks were playing on the road.
    AND the Mavericks (like the Lakers) were also a completely revamped roster, so it’s like they had a “chemistry and experience” advantage over the Lakers.

    Anyway you want to look at it, it’s not a great sign that the Lakers would have had to rely on free throws to beat Mavericks, who had even more disadvantages to overcome than the Lakers.

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 31, 2012 at 11:31 AM

      For the record, around this site I’ve been saying the Lakers need time to gel and wait to judge this team in January.

  3. 91devinhester23 - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    mark cuban’s revenge on dwight. loving it.

  4. progress2011 - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:29 AM

    O.K…

    I wanna hear all the FAKER fans, excuses EX: they are still learning the offense etc.

    Well, Dallas has an entirely new friggin roster ! They are learning the offense, defense too.

    PLUS, Dirk didn’t even play. AND probably the second best player (Kaman) didn’t play.

    Ya’ll lost to a bunch of no-name dudes.

    Like Tarver told Roy Jones Jr., before knocking him out…..” what’s gonna be your excuse now ” ….ahahahahaha

  5. larrybrown43 - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:38 AM

    Wake me in May. Zzzzzzz

  6. letangusespertplus - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:42 AM

    mike brown is an excellent coach.

    • progress2011 - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:51 AM

      Here’s a typical excuse…Blame the coach !

      Mike Brown didn’t get RIPPED in the middle of the floor….that was Nash

      Mike Brown wasn’t getting boxed out by guys 4 inches shorter than him, that was Gasol and Howard.

      Mike Brown wasn’t getting BLOWN by on defense, that was Steve Nash

      Mike Brown wasn’t Bricking Free Throws, that was the ENTIRE FAKER TEAM !!!

      Try again, with more excuses !

      • letangusespertplus - Oct 31, 2012 at 6:49 AM

        yeah… i was making a joke kid. not a laker fan.

      • progress2011 - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:31 AM

        You gotta be clear boy. Otherwise people / me have to put you on the right track…back to school.

    • southbeachtalent - Oct 31, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      sarcasm doesn’t work around here, a certain level of intelligence is needed to comprehend.

      • progress2011 - Oct 31, 2012 at 7:57 PM

        No talent….

        This is a blog…nobody got time to figure out you and the other dorks corniness …..you call sarcasm.

        Be a man ! Say what you mean…mean what you say. And you better have some FACTS !

  7. xcastorx - Oct 31, 2012 at 6:40 AM

    Where’s FakerLuver? Your team SUCK! LMAO

  8. raidmagic - Oct 31, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    They better get used to bad nights at the free throw line, that’s Howard’s mantra. The only good thing about losing him in Orlando is we get to see millionaires actually make free throws.

  9. fruitcovejag - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    LA Lakers=NYY of the NBA. Of course everyone wants to see them lose! Come on OKC.

  10. jerdogthompson - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    Quite frankly I was pleased with the Lakers performance. Yep, Gasoft was up to his no post defense ways. Nash could only impede but not stop collision. D12 couldnt hit the side of a barn from the charity stripe. Ron-Ron was hucking up 3 balls or should I say bricks. Then when all else failed, it became Kobe ball, my favorite time. Kobe gets a couple acrobatic shots off only to see the Maverick TEAM march right down the floor to score again & again & again, you get the point. Far as I can tell that was a picture perfect game by the Lakers. What’s that? They lost? Oh, my bad…….

    • unxpexted1 - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:29 AM

      “and then it became Kobe ball”

      He went 11-14 from the field, I’d hardly call that the typical “Kobe ball”

  11. rodge1 - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    They are who we thought they were

    • badintent - Oct 31, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      Great ! Dennis Green again !
      “you can’t handle the Truth !!”… screamed Jack from his court side seat.. at Mike Brown

      • mazblast - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:12 PM

        If Jack were to say that to Brown or Kupchak, I’d go crazy.

  12. unxpexted1 - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    Well that game didnt go like i expected. Def not the way i wanted to start the season. Its a bad loss but a long season. Lakers didnt seem to come out with much fire. And the one thing that we didnt solve with the offseason signings is athletes along the perimeter. Bryant and Nash is the oldest backcourt in the league and it shows on defense. I would love to see ebanks play more off the bench at the 3 instead of jamison at 3 so that we have some sort of athlete on the floor. Tough loss, and Dallas looks better than expected.

  13. worldbfree4me - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    If this was Football, the loss would be significant, but unfortunately the Lakers and can lose up to 40 games and still make the Playoffs. So, 81 more games to go! I have no doubt that the Lakers will be at the dance, but will the Mavs?

  14. paulhargis53 - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    My favorite stat of the night?
    Kobe/Nash- 34
    Arrest -36
    Howard-37
    Gasol-40
    That’s minutes played……

    Losing by 8 to a team with 2 starters gone and playing starters that many minutes?!

    No bench= many games like this and a 3rd consecutive early exit from the playoffs.

    Where are the big mouth usual suspects?
    I hope this team loses about 6 games in a row.

    • skids003 - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Yeahm, the big Diva better learn how to shoot free throws.

  15. omniusprime - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Absolutely disgusting how the new Lakers just didn’t have the hustle or desire to win last night. This was a monumental failure of coaching, time for Clown Brown to be fired and for the Buss family to bring in a real coach. Also time to fire Steve Flake and bring in a much better replacement guard. The bench stank it up last night. Steve Nash failed to play defense, as always. I sure hope Kobe reads the team the riot act about showing some heart. No reason why the Lakers should lose to a shorthanded Mavs team without their best player Dirk. Go Kobe!!! Go Lakers!!!

    • somekat - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:34 AM

      Get real, there are no decent bench pieces still sitting out there with no job. If they get anyone to replace Blake now, it will be someone release by another team. The lakers made their choice, they chose to put an “NBA13″ starters, and let the bench suffer, but assume it won’t matter because the starters will get them such a cusion.

      I do think the lakers will pull it together, and still be one of the teams in the running for a title at the end of the day. But their problems really aren’t fixable at this point. They are just going to ahve to learn how to mask them. Their bench is trash. Artest thinks he can shoot. Howard can’t shoot free throws, Nash can’t guard my grandmother. None of these issues are going away, they just have to figure out how to use their substantial advantages to overcome those disadvantages

    • skids003 - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      Kinda hard for the coach to motivate a bunch of egotistical whiny babies being paid millions? Yeah, it’s the coaches fault. Yeah, and Kobe needs to scream at all of them, don’t they know they are supposed to worship him too, let him get his points, and they figure out a way to win with him getting his 30 shots. Haha, long season.

  16. daddyghi - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    i say its the coaching staff’s fault.. you have arguably one of the best point guard-of-all-time and not use it to its full potential to make plays… look at what happened to avery johnson in dallas… he got sacked when he’s controlling j-kidd.. then rick carlisle decided to let j-kidd play his game, then dallas won a championship… same thing happened to miami’s eric spoelstra… didnt utilized lebrons talent the first year, got knocked out, let lebron play his game the next year, got a ring… the point is, if you have a hall of famer player, you need to let them play their game… they’re good at it.. they became famous because of t… you need to trust them…

    • progress2011 - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:43 AM

      This is a nice theory……….HOWEVER, this would mean taking the ball out of kobe/ wanna-be-like-Mike hands!

      Everyone knows, Nash should run the offense. Dude only got 4 assists! his fewest in over a decade.

      But if Nash were to run the offense ball-hawk/ jack-up-artist/ And1 / Harlem Globe Trotter would cry so much, it would flood Staples Center.

      Like he cried, when he was Shaq’s waterboy on the first 3 Championships and Shaq was the MVP or when he wanted to be traded.

      Crybaby !

    • somekat - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      and when you have 4 potential hall of famers? Who do you let “play their game? Wo do you “trust”?

      Out of the 4 on the lakers, I would trust Kobe and Gasol, you know, the guys with rings.

      Nash has played “his game” his entire career, and we all see what it got him. Playoff runs finished with epic failure. Nash has to adjust to get his game meshed with the lakers, more than the lakers need to adjust their game to mesh with Nash. BOTH need to change some, but Nash must more than the rest of the team. If he doesn’t figure something out, I see him watching a lot of games. When it comes playoff time, who in LA thinks he’s going to be able to stay in front of Westbrook? Or Parker? Lawson? The list goes on, with the other “contenders”, they are going in to any series with a huge disadvantage in that the PG is going to be able to do what he wants without help. It is much harder (and leaves you more vulnerable) help against a G than it does against a big man

      • progress2011 - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        Kat….

        You raise good questions, which is why ALL Non-Fakers don’t understand why la got Nash.
        As you implied:

        1. He can’t play D
        2. He’s never won a ring
        3. His one asset of running an offense/ dominating the ball, is being taken away from him

        So, educated fans have concluded, the FAKERS are a 3 (maybe 4) seed. Behind OKC, Clippers, San Antonio and maybe Denver.

        Based on your assessment of your own team, you seem to agree.

        Because the Point Guards on the teams I mentioned are going to ABUSE Nash. He was outplayed by Collison !

  17. southbeachtalent - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    Why does Brown always look like he lost his keys?

  18. sprest83 - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    Rick Carlise is a great coach! Tons of people were writing this Mavs team off, but they forgot about Carlise.

  19. timb12 - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the Lakers are on pace to go 0-82. That would be the worst record of all time.

  20. fugetaboutit - Oct 31, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    Very classy DHoward for the flagrant. I thought one of the reasons Bynum was traded was because he was immature? Nash is what, 50? Lakers are not upgraded, they are the same team as last year without a bench.

  21. blakspartan - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Wow just one game and you all think its over for the lakers

    • themars211 - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      The way these guys are talking you would swear the Lakers just got eliminated from the playoffs. Its one game and I was sure they were not going 82-0.

      • southbeachtalent - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:16 PM

        get used to it.

    • progress2011 - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      Well Crackspartan,

      Maybe…just MAYBE….we wouldn’t be pointing out all the Faker deficiencies, if Faker fans didn’t claim they were gonna win the championship, when the trades were made. Before any games were played.

      The media and Faker fans, bought this on yourselves.

      It’s NEVER been wise to talk a bunch of smack, if you can’t back it up !

      It’s like initiating a fight by punching someone in the jaw and then when that person opens a can of WHOOP BUTT on you, you try to quit and beg the person to stop.

      NOPE….your gonna have to take this WHOOPIN, until I get tired ! And not a minute sooner.

  22. smackingfools - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Better get rid of that old Princeton style offense, Mr. Brown. It’s not gonna work.

    • southbeachtalent - Oct 31, 2012 at 3:54 PM

      after one game? yea Ok

  23. BigBeachBall - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    when the concession stands run out of diet coke… you know mark cuban is somewhere in the building.

  24. staff2cj - Oct 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Love seeing the Corn Flakes lose!!!

  25. wlubake - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    My hope for the Mavericks is that they can establish a nice, steady offense that involves everyone, then incorporate Dirk into that offense. This team has relied too heavily on Dirk in isolation the last few years. There are some new scorers getting to emerge from the shadows of their respective teams. Adding a top 10 scorer to that mix will be pretty exciting.

    Carlisle is a really impressive coach pulling this group together.

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