On the other hand, Lakers' opener did not go so well

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On the other hand, Lakers' opener did not go so well

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.

Former Kings forward Casspi breaks thumb in Pelicans debut

Former Kings forward Casspi breaks thumb in Pelicans debut

NEW ORLEANS — Omri Casspi has broken his right thumb in his first game with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Casspi says he's expected to miss about four weeks but hopes he can return a little sooner than that.

The forward says he jammed the thumb on his shooting hand while trying to defend Houston guard Eric Gordon in the third quarter of the Pelicans' 129-99 loss to the Rockets on Thursday night.

He says he briefly remained in the game but opted for an X-ray after it swelled up and learned it was broken.

Casspi scored 12 points while playing just under 24 minutes.

Casspi was acquired by New Orleans on Sunday night in a trade with Sacramento that also brought DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans.

Pelicans lose by 30, but Cousins scores 27 with 14 rebounds in debut

Pelicans lose by 30, but Cousins scores 27 with 14 rebounds in debut

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut after a trade from the Lakers, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds after he was acquired from Sacramento during the break. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists.

Houston led by as many as 35 points when Gordon's free throws made it 100-65 late in the third quarter.

Patrick Beverley had 12 rebounds for Houston. Montrezl Harrell added 10 points for the Rockets, who shot 49.5 percent (45 of 91).

After New Orleans acquired Cousins, nicknamed "Boogie," in a deal involving five players and two draft choices, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps hoped Cousins and Davis would thrive playing off one another while point guard Jrue Holiday initiated offensive sets. But Holiday had arguably his worst game this season, turning the ball over seven times and finishing with only six points and four assists.

The crowd was charged up for both Cousins' debut and Davis' resumption of a sensational season following his record 52-point performance on Sunday.

Both players received rousing receptions during introductions and the crowd roared when Cousins hit a jumper for games' first points.

Cousins and Davis each scored eight in the first quarter, but it was also apparent that the integration of new personnel had New Orleans a bit out of sync. The Pelicans turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, leading to 17 Rockets points.

The Rockets also hit nine 3s in the opening half, including three each by Gordon and Williams, and led 66-50 at halftime.

By the end of the third quarter, the crowd that had been so rowdy at tip-off was starting to file out with their team down 100-67.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston has won seven of the past eight meetings. ... The Rockets hit at least 10 3s in a game for the 55th time in 59 games this season. ... The Rockets, now 41-18, have matched their win total for all of last season.

Pelicans: Before the game, New Orleans waived F Terrence Jones and signed G/F Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Jones, who joined New Orleans on a one-year contract this season, was released to help him find a team where he could play more. Thompson played a little more than four minutes and scored three points. ... The Pelicans are now 14-16 at home.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host Minnesota on Saturday night.

Pelicans: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.