Feuding Lakers thrash Mavericks

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2003

LOS ANGELES The new-look Los Angeles Lakers didn't need Kobe Bryant to do what they always do against the Dallas Mavericks.

With Gary Payton leading the fast break and Karl Malone providing plenty of everything, the Lakers put aside their squabbles and defeated Dallas at home for the 26th consecutive time 109-93 Tuesday night.

''Well, they're awesome,'' Dallas coach Don Nelson said. ''Even without Kobe they have enough firepower to dominate the league.''

Payton had 21 points and nine assists, and Malone added 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists to barely miss the fourth triple-double of his career. Both received standing ovations when they left in the fourth quarter, with Bryant among those lavishing the two newcomers with applause.

Shaquille O'Neal, Derek Fisher and Devean George three of the holdovers from last season's Lakers each added 16 points.

''Unbelievable. All that firepower. We've got cannons, rockets, missiles, you name it,'' Lakers forward Bryon Russell said.

Bryant, engaged in a public feud with O'Neal, sat out because of soreness in his surgically repaired knee and did not join his teammates on the bench until the end of the third quarter. At that point, the Lakers were already receiving a standing ovation, and the crowd cheered even louder as Bryant was shown on the main scoreboard.

Wearing a red T-shirt that clashed with the Lakers' gold jerseys, Bryant sat alongside O'Neal for the start of the fourth quarter and stayed on the bench for the rest of the game. He said he and O'Neal had patched things up.

''We're cool. We talked this morning. He said what he said, I said what I said. We put it behind us,'' Bryant said. ''Shaq and I are going to move on, be teammates and help this team to a fourth title.''

It was Bryant's first public appearance at the Staples Center since the Lakers were eliminated during the second round of the playoffs. Bryant stayed in the locker room during the Lakers' two home exhibition games.

Perhaps what made Bryant emerge was watching the way his teammates meshed during the third quarter, their best sequence ending with an over-the-head backdoor pass from Malone to Payton for a reverse layup. Malone had seven points, five rebounds and five assists in the quarter, which ended with the Lakers ahead 86-67.

The Mavericks, who were led by 19 points apiece from Dirk Nowitzki and Antoine Walker, never threatened in the fourth quarter.

''When Kobe comes back they're going to be very dangerous, but they're going to have to jell as well,'' Walker said. ''I think tonight they played off adrenaline and emotion. This was a big game for them with the controversy they had, so we'll see if they can keep it up through the season.''

Bryant said he expects to play Saturday night at Phoenix in the Lakers' first road game.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson addressed the crowd prior to tipoff.

''I kind of miss the ring ceremony we've had the last couple of years, and we hope to provide you with a team that will get us another one,'' Jackson said.

SAN ANTONIO Anthony Carter's layup off an offensive rebound with 28 seconds left gave San Antonio the lead for good, and the Spurs hung on through three missed shots by Phoenix, beating the Suns 83-82 Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.

Carter, starting in place of the injured Tony Parker, helped seal the win with his defense on Stephon Marbury on the final possession, forcing the Suns' guard to take two jumpers before one final miss on a rebound.

Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Malik Rose had 12 points and Ron Mercer 11. Carter finished with 10 points.

Marbury finished with 24 points. Shawn Marion added 20 points for Phoenix, which defeated the Spurs in three of their four regular-season matchups last season. Amare Stoudemire and Jake Voskuhl both fouled out and had 10 points.

Before the game, the San Antonio players, coaches and executives were presented their diamond-heavy rings before the opening tip. Former Spurs David Robinson, Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry, all now retired, returned to the SBC Center to join six of last year's teammates getting rings.

Ayers was Larry Brown's top assistant for six seasons. Brown left Philadelphia for Detroit.

Miami coach Stan Van Gundy, promoted last week after Pat Riley stepped down, lost his first game. Riley remains the team president.

Dwyane Wade scored 18 points in his first NBA game. Eddie Jones scored 15 points and Brian Grant added 13 for the Heat, who played all but the first eight minutes without forward Lamar Odom, who sprained his right ankle.

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