All eyes are on Kobe Bryant with his strained and bruised right foot heading into the season opener for the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks. But while the Lakers may or may not be without Bryant on Tuesday, they will face a Dallas team depleted by injury.
Star forward Dirk Nowitzki is not with the team as he recovers from offseason surgery on his right knee. The Mavericks' front court received another blow on Monday when center Chris Kaman was ruled out with a right calf strain. That means Eddy Curry, who was claimed off waivers on Friday, will likely start at center for Dallas on Tuesday night, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News.
"I definitely got thrown into the fire," Curry told Sefko. "But this is what, growing up as a kid, what you dream about. I’m playing in this league, I got another opportunity and I’m going to make the best of it."
That should bode well for Dwight Howard, who makes his Lakers debut at center. But Howard is coming off a medical procedure of his own, as he had spinal surgery on Apr. 20 to repair a herniated disc. Howard told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register on Monday, "There are still days where it’s real achy, and hard to move. And I just try to fight through it."
The Lakers are 17-3 in their last 20 season openers, and 14-5 in season openers at home since moving to Los Angeles for the 1960-61 season. The Lakers are 55-11 all-time against the Mavericks at home in the regular season, including 20-4 since Staples Center opened in 1999.
This year marks the seventh consecutive season the Lakers have opened at Staples Center.
The Lakers will try to shake off an 0-8 preseason record, their worst exhibition record since the team began keeping complete preseason records in 1982. The team went 0-2 in the preseason last year, but recovered to finish 41-25 in the lockout-truncated campaign to capture the Pacific Division crown for the fifth consecutive season.
Steve Nash will also make his Lakers debut on Tuesday night. The 38-year old point guard averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 assists during the preseason, shooting 48.7% from the field in 22.1 minutes per game.
The Lakers swept last season's series against the Mavericks, but three of the four wins were by five or fewer points. Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. PT game will be televised nationally by TNT. Kevin Harlan will be on play-by-play, with analyst Reggie Miller and sideline reporter David Aldridge.