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Mavericks utilize Guerrilla Warfare; spoil Nash and Howard debuts

Oct 31, 2012, 3:26 AM EDT

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. misterdreamer119 - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    With Mike Brown at the helm Im sure Wight Howard will play at his peak. I mean look what he Cleveland.

    Not! Lebron was the coach for Cavs. H

  2. 00maltliquor - Oct 31, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    That was hard to watch.

    Mike Brown just needs to abort that hideous offense, plus it’s sucking all the fun out of Steve Nash. Nash looked like a regular dude out there, Derek Fisher could have done the same thing. That is NOT the kind of offense we need to be running with the kind of personel we have. I was not happy when I first heard we were going to go in that direction, while I seen a lot of fellow Laker fans say it was going to be a good thing. Now seeing it for a full regular season game with all our parts getting major time I am even more upset that this is what we plan on running. FML.

    It WILL get better. The team WILL figure out the offense. Somewhere down the line. But we will NOT maximize our potential if we keep running that garbage, crap offense! We need to let Steve Nash run free, otherwise wtf are we doing paying him 10 million for? Plus our defense, wtf was that!? How we have all those defensive players and let a Mavs team missing their 2 best players and a roster full of guys who had promise but now have much to prove (Collison, Mayo, Carter, Brand, Wright, CURRY (for God’s sakes!!), Beaubois…) just straight CLOWN us like that!??

    It’s easy to say “blame the coach” when things go wrong, and most of the times you would be wrong, but what should I think? That was pathetic. We got 5 guys that all have been the Face of the franchise at one time or another and we can’t put it together? AGAINST THE MAVS, MINUS DIRK, PLUS EDDY FREAKING CURRY! These guys are too smart, to talented. This is not the offense we need to run. Guys are bored and in showed in their defense, or lack of.

    Ditch the f*****g Princeton, dump Eddie Jordan, let Steve Nash be Steve Nash, SIGN DELONTE WEST ASAP. And make Dwight Howard shoot free throws a couple feet back like Nick Van Exel did cause he’s long on all his shots, they go straight, but are just shot too hard. (D12 is going to make me go CRAZY this year because of that!)

  3. paulhargis53 - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Kobe had the ball in his hands too much.
    It isn’t the offense stupid, its players not adhering to its principles.

    Kob got his points, no assists….

    This isn’t going to work out. The bench is D league material.
    Now, Delonte West is going to solve the issues? lmao!!

  4. cowhawkfan - Oct 31, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Two distinct views:

    1) Lakers get beat by a lowly Mavs team, yet it will simply take time for the Lakers to get on track.
    2) Celtics get beat by Miami and clearly Boston is not in Miami’s class.

    How does one game determine any of this? Talk about medial overreaction, especially on the Celtics loss. Of course, the media claimed the Mavs would be the Washington General’s too. hahaha…what is that saying, don’t believe everything you read!

  5. spthegr8 - Oct 31, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    LLS!!!! I Knew all the “TROLLS” would have fun with this one. They shoudn’t have lost to the Mav’s,@ 100%. So the fact that they didn’t have Dirk or kaman, only make’s it that much more embarrassing. Their is absolutely NO EXCUSE for us too lose to them…..EVER.!!!!!!! It’s only 1 game, but from what I have seen so far. That new Offense of Mike Brown’s looks like the DRIZZLING SH**S!!!!!!!!! It may work in the long run( I have my DOUBTS) but only time will tell. Give the Mav’s some credit also, they out played us IN A BIG WAY!!!!!!!

  6. southbeachtalent - Oct 31, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    I don’t understand how the fans and media alike always knee-jerk. It’s one freakin game, with a whole new team! Let’s give them more than a game to acquire fluency. I mean come on!!

    It’s always championship or blow up the team… Ridiculous.

  7. jerdogthompson - Oct 31, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    All & all I must say I can find something to agree about in virtually every post with exception of southbeachnotalent.

    One game yes. Time to gel yes. Learning new system yes. However, if you include last season the Fak-Lakers are 0-12 or 0-13 I believe.

    Bottom line is regardless of the offense Princeton or otherwise the Mavs were able to contain Nash and penetrate on Gasoft. Especially loved the use of the medulla oblongata by Brand in route to a score on Gasoft however. Face it, teams around the league will use this tape as a “how too” beat the Lakers video and play it ad nauseum throughout the season.

    Can they adjust? Perhaps. Although it was the first time in Nash’s career he played over 27 minutes and finished with under 10pts & 7-8 assists (someone check that).

    Face the facts, this team either rebounds or disappears into obscurity along with 75% of their fan base. Which will it be? I will bet the latter. But who am I to judge?

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