The Dallas Mavericks opened the season with a toe-stubbing loss at home against the Washington Wizards. And while it looked like it would be an easy 0-2 hole to fall into with the World Champion Lakers up next, the Mavs came out as gangbusters and rocked LA at Staples Center for a 94-80 win on Friday.
The Mavs don't beat the Lakers. They especially don't beat the Lakers at the Staples Center. Heck, Dallas even has occasional struggles with the lowly Clippers in LA.
But last night the new-look Mavs - literally, they debuted some sleek new blue jerseys - were firing on all cylinders against a Lakers team that couldn't find its shot until it was too late. The Mavs out-rebounded LA 46-40 with Dirk and Damp each notching 10 boards. But the most impressive line of the night came from the newest Maverick Shawn Marion, who dropped 18 points and six rebounds with a steal and an assist. Marion, along with other newcomers Quinton Ross and Drew Gooden, bring a new mentality to a team that has lacked fight in past seasons.
And while Dallas is without the injured Josh Howard to begin the year, perhaps his absence is best to give these new players a chance to alter the mental makeup of the Mavs. Howard is one of the Mavs who hasn't been as dialed in or focused as he needs to be for Dallas to be successful in past seasons. J-Ho has yet to become the Robin to Nowitzki's Batman.
Now with the addition of talented role players, Howard will be forced to step up his game upon his return. Until that time, Dallas can gel with new players who represent a tougher mindset, something this franchise has lacked in past seasons as evidenced by collapses in the 2006 Finals against Miami and 2007 opening round series against Golden State.
The win against the Lakers is only one win. It only counts for one in the win column, but it's a W that the Mavs don't usually pick up, especially not in LA.