Place: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki won’t play and Los Angeles star Kobe Bryant is doubtful when the visiting Mavericks and the retooled Lakers open the season on Tuesday.
Nowitzki had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Oct. 19 and will likely miss the first month of the season. Bryant injured his right foot in a preseason game on Oct. 21 and hasn’t practiced since. Point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard both make their Los Angeles debuts.
The Lakers acquired Nash from the Phoenix Suns and Howard from the Orlando Magic after their second straight second-round playoff exit.
Pairing the two stars with Bryant and forward Pau Gasol will give the Lakers a four-star quartet hard to defend. Dallas is also recharging after winning the 2011 NBA title. The injured Nowitzki and veteran forward Shawn Marion are the only two remaining players from the title-winning squad.
Dallas Mavericks (2011-12: 36-30): Marion will be the only familiar face in the starting lineup of the revamped squad. The other scheduled starters are forward Elton Brand and recently acquired center Eddy Curry in the frontcourt and O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison in the backcourt.
“This is what we got. That’s the way it is,” Marion said. “We can’t harp on it all day.” Center Chris Kaman (calf) will miss the game and his recent injury necessitated the signing of Curry.
Los Angeles Lakers (2011-12: 41-25): Bryant didn’t participate in Monday’s practice and afterwards, the team termed his possible availability as a game-time decision.
Bryant is noted for playing through pain but even some of his teammates doubt he will be able to play. “I know he’s a little down right now,” Howard said. “He seems down because he can’t get out there and practice with us.” Offseason acquisition Jodie Meeks is expected to start if Bryant can’t go.
1. Los Angeles won all four games against the Mavericks last season and 14 of the last 17 regular-season meetings. However, Dallas swept the Lakers in the second round of the 2011 playoffs.
2. The Lakers went 0-8 in the preseason and five of the losses were by double digits.
3. The Mavericks waived troubled guard Delonte West on Monday. West was suspended twice this month for detrimental conduct.