What's buzzing:
1-0
99 -
Team 1 2 3 4
DAL 25 23 26 25
LAL 29 17 20 25
91
0-1

Mavericks-Lakers Preview

AP - Sports

Disappointing playoff outcomes led the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks to retool their rosters in hopes of again rising to the top of the Western Conference.

Each team, though, surrounded its long-standing - yet ailing - superstar in different manners.

Kobe Bryant expects to play but Dirk Nowitzki won't as these new-look squads open their seasons Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

The Lakers were bounced in five games in the second round of last season's playoffs by Oklahoma City, the eventual West champion that swept Dallas out of the postseason the previous round.

Bryant averaged 27.9 points in the regular season for the Lakers (41-25) - finishing one-tenth of a point behind scoring leader Kevin Durant - but he was critical of teammate Pau Gasol in the postseason and seemed to have the desire for more help.

General manager Mitch Kupchak made a pair of big offseason acquisitions, getting two-time MVP Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix before parting with Andrew Bynum - among others - in a blockbuster four-team trade to land Dwight Howard.

With Bryant, Gasol, Nash, Howard and Metta World Peace, the Lakers seemingly have one of the most formidable starting lineups in the NBA supported by a bench that includes acquisitions Chris Duhon and Antawn Jamison.

"Everybody on the starting five has led their own team and been the go-to guy, the best player on a team," World Peace said. "We've all been the man somewhere else, and now we're together. It's unbelievable. They're all rock stars, but everybody has a great attitude. It's a great time, great time for us."

Howard is recovering from offseason back surgery but is expected to play in the opener, while Bryant was a question mark with a bruised and strained right foot until pronouncing himself ready to go after fully participating in Tuesday's shootaround.

"If it's not going to get worse, it's one of those injuries you can play through and heal as you play," Bryant told the Lakers' official website. "If it gets worse, you can't go."

Bryant also is aware Los Angeles must develop some chemistry before being labeled as a serious contender, evidenced by the club's 0-8 preseason record. No team has ever reached the NBA finals after a winless preseason.

"We're going to be a really good team, but we've got a lot of work in front of us right now," Bryant said. "We're not close to a finished product, and the teams that we want to compete with have all had their main groups together longer.

"We've got to keep improving every day, every week, and learning how to play together."

Dallas may have a more difficult time adjusting with its eight newcomers, especially with Nowitzki missing at least the first 10 games after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

The Mavericks (36-30) courted Dallas native Deron Williams in the offseason and may also have inquired about Howard, who reportedly listed the Mavericks as one of his preferred destinations during his saga with Orlando.

Dallas, though, struck out on each and opted to acquire a multitude of players, including Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones and Eddy Curry.

"We had some big fish available and we didn't get them. So you can do either of two things - blow the whole thing up and start over, or keep signing guys to short contracts to stay a player in the free agent market the following year," Nowitzki said. "For basically saying we still want to be a player next summer, we still put a decent product out there. We're going to compete and see what happens."

The start of the new season likely won't be easy, though, as Dallas also will have to contend with injuries other than Nowitzki's. Kaman is nursing a strained right calf and won't play in at least the opener, forcing Curry - who has played 24 games over the last four years - into a starting role.

The Mavericks waived point guard Delonte West on Monday after he was suspended twice in less than two weeks for conduct detrimental to the team, and Jason Terry also bolted for Boston in free agency.

"This is what we got. That's the way it is," forward Shawn Marion said. "We can't harp on it all day. We'll do what we gotta do."

The Lakers won all four meetings with the Mavericks last season.

View Comments (131)
  • Hamilton cool with engine problem, tops Malaysian practice

    Hamilton cool with engine problem, tops Malaysian practice

    Lewis Hamilton found a new way to demonstrate Mercedes' domination of Formula One by sitting out two thirds of Friday's practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix and yet was still the fastest. The period spent cooling his heels in the garage, … More »

    AP - Sports - 7 minutes ago
  • I was never concerned about my spot, says Australia's Finch

    I was never concerned about my spot, says Australia's Finch

    Australia opener Aaron Finch said he never feared for his place in the side during his lean spell at the World Cup and having found some runs will be raring to go in Sunday's final at his home ground. Finch hit an uncharacteristically scrappy 81 in … More »

    Reuters - 12 minutes ago
  • 30 is the new 40 when it comes to home runs these days

    30 is the new 40 when it comes to home runs these days

    ''I mean I grew up watching Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs and now guys are talking about 30's good.'' Home runs have hit their lowest rate in more than two decades. The days of bulked-up sluggers like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa topping … More »

    AP - Sports - 32 minutes ago
  • Pirelli hoping for more stops in rising Sepang heat

    Pirelli hoping for more stops in rising Sepang heat

    By John O'Brien SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli are predicting a possible three-stop strategy for the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend after track temperatures soared to around 60 degrees Celsius in the first two … More »

    Reuters - 40 minutes ago
  • Xavi agent declines comment on Al Sadd deal reports

    Xavi agent declines comment on Al Sadd deal reports

    Xavi's agent has declined to comment on reports the Barcelona midfielder is set to leave the La Liga leaders at the end of the season and sign a lucrative contract with Qatari side Al Sadd. Xavi, 35, has played for Barca a record 751 times since he … More »

    Reuters - 51 minutes ago