From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dwight Howard missed a two-handed dunk on his first shot, and the night never got much better for the Los Angeles Lakers.When Howard and Steve Nash took their places alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol under the Hollywood spotlight, the Lakers opened a season of enormous expectations with an equally big dud of a performance.Darren Collison scored 17 points, Brandan Wright added 14, and the Dallas Mavericks spoiled the Lakers debuts of Howard and Steve Nash with a 99-91 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night.In his first regular-season game in a gold jersey, Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds while missing 11 of his 14 free throws before fouling out with 2:02 to play.That's hardly the debut he anticipated after arriving in a trade with Orlando last August, but not much has gone according to plan in the first month for the Lakers' starters, who barely played together in their winless preseason due to injuries."It's not an excuse, but it will all come with time," Howard said. "We haven't had an opportunity to really play together as much as we want, but we're going to get it. ... We're going to chip away, and we're going to get better."The Lakers' superstar newcomers both had debuts to forget. Nash managed just seven points and four assists while trying to balance the Lakers' new motion offense with his own strengths on the pick-and-roll -- all while getting roundly outplayed by Mavs newcomer Collison."It's growing pains, and it's a struggle," Nash said. "We're out of sync, and we're going to probably have some more moments in games like that."O.J. Mayo had 12 points as the Mavericks pulled off a stunner in their opener, comfortably beating the Lakers without any help from injured Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas and Los Angeles both made big moves in the offseason, yet the Mavericks appeared to be much more together than their high-profile rivals."It's a great win," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "If you execute in this league and have talent, you have a chance to win, and we did that. The Lakers are going to be fine. They've got a lot of new guys and a new system, but we were opportunistic tonight and got the job done."Bryant scored 22 points while playing on an injured right foot for the Lakers, whose loaded lineup followed up its 0-8 preseason with a largely passionless second-half effort in front of a sellout crowd expecting to see a super team capable of contending for the franchise's 17th championship -- a fact acknowledged by Bryant when he addressed the fans before the game."As you know, we have a lot of expectations this season," Bryant said. "We're trying to live up to the expectations. We're trying to bring another championship back to where it belongs, back to Los Angeles."Instead, the Lakers showed how much work they will have to do to challenge Miami and the NBA's best.Dallas steadily pulled away to a 16-point lead in the second half, never allowing any serious runs by their disjointed, disorganized opponents as the Lakers lost their opener for just the fourth time in the last 21 years."It's not the way we wanted it to go," said Gasol, who led the Lakers with 23 points and 13 rebounds. "We know it's not going to happen for us right away, but we've just got to stick with it."Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and Rodrigue Beaubois scored 11 points apiece for the Mavericks, who snapped a six-game skid against the Lakers over the past two seasons.Dallas also contained Howard by using his career-long free-throw ineptitude against him -- hardly a novel strategy, but one that worked particularly well when combined with Howard's opening-night nerves."When he had me in a bad position, I wanted to foul him," said Elton Brand, who had eight points and 11 rebounds in his Dallas debut. "Underneath the basket, he's a beast and he's hard to stop. I know he can dunk, and I know he can make those tough layups, so I'm playing the percentages. He obviously hasn't been a good free throw shooter, and tonight he was 3 for 14."The Lakers were 12 for 31 altogether from the free-throw line, a major factor in their inability to close the gap on Dallas in the second half."I've just got to stop thinking so much and get up there and make them," Howard said.Jae Crowder scored eight points in his NBA debut for the Mavericks, who are likely to be without Nowitzki for at least six more weeks while the German superstar recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. Dallas also played without new center Chris Kaman, yet had little trouble containing the Lakers down low.NOTES:Dallas opened its season on the road for the first time since 2007. The Mavericks had opened the season against the Lakers three previous times, losing all three games. ... Howard was called for a flagrant foul in the third quarter for hammering Brand on an open shot in the lane. ... Katy Perry, Russell Brand, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Adam Levine, Jon Cryer and Los Angeles Galaxy stars David Beckham and Robbie Keane attended the game.
NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock quarterbacked a marathon conference call with reporters from around the country on Monday in order to shed some light on the prospects who will compete at the combine later this week. One thing that stood out? He's not ready to crown anyone in this year's crop of draftable signal-callers.
As a result of the dearth of pro-ready talent at quarterback, Mayock recognized Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo as perhaps the top target for any quarterback-needy team. Garoppolo might interest the Cleveland Browns in particular, Mayock noted, because of the number of picks they have near the top of the draft.
"In my opinion," Mayock said, "if I'm the Cleveland Browns and I've got No. 1 and No. 12, if I came away with either [defensive end Myles] Garrett or [defensive tackle] Jonathan Allen at No. 1, and gave up the 12th pick in the draft to get Garoppolo? I would be stoked.
"I would feel like I had a difference-maker on defense and we had a quarterback on offense. Now let's get to work. We got five in the first 65 picks. Let's get to work. From my perspective, especially looking at the quarterbacks this year, if they gave up No. 12 and could get Garoppolo, I'd be all over that."
Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading while feeling like Warren Beatty took the sneaky way out by handing that wrong Academy Award card to Faye Dunaway last night. Clearly he knew something was amiss and he let her step into it. Kind of a weasel move if you asked me.
-- An interesting letter from FOH (Friend of Haggs) James Mirtle about the pay wall involving The Athletic sports website in Toronto.
-- Dean Lombardi and the Los Angeles Kings dealing for Ben Bishop is about more than just an insurance policy for Jonathan Quick.
-- FOH Mike Halford has the Minnesota Wild going for it with their trade for Martin Hanzal, but also keeping him from the other teams in the West.
-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the Penguins are in great shape after winning the Cup last spring, and it’s clear they’re in good hands after Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle opted not to sell the franchise.
-- Kyle Quincey is being held out of the lineup in New Jersey because of pending trades, and the wonder is who else in New Jersey might be getting dealt.
-- Gabriel Landeskog and his Colorado Avalanche teammates know the trade deadline is coming. It would certainly be weird if they didn’t.
-- The San Jose Sharks feel fortunate for the timing of their bye week as it was clear that they needed a break.
-- For something completely different: Gronk was busy doing Gronk things at the Daytona 500 over the weekend.