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New-look Lakers lose to Mavericks, make Mark Cuban happy

It’s a work in progress. (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)

Apparently it takes more than a handful of all-stars to produce a polished, winning basketball team.

A little practice might help.

The new-look Los Angeles Lakers took the floor amid tremendous hype on Tuesday night at Staples Center. They left the floor with a 99-91 loss courtesy of the short-handed Dallas Mavericks.

“It’s not an excuse, but it will all come with time,” said center Dwight Howard of the preseason injuries that kept the team’s core from playing together for much of the preseason. “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.”

Howard was an efficient 8 of 12 from the field but missed a dunk on his first attempt and was just 3 of 14 from the free throw line. Fellow newcomer Steve Nash managed just seven points and a very un-Nash-like four assists.

Dallas was without Dirk Nowitzki, who is recovering from knee surgery, and was working with its new starting backcourt of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo.  And despite playing most of the night without a true center on the floor, the Mavericks held their own on the boards.

Naturally, the result left Mavericks owner Mark Cuban smitten.

Asked before the game whether he thought the Lakers should be considered a favorite to win the Western Conference, Cuban was as candid as always.

“I don’t know, I don’t care, I just hope they (stink),” Cuban told ESPN Dallas. “You know, like any other team.”

“Obviously, Nash is great. He’s phenomenal, Dwight’s phenomenal, Kobe … but it takes a team,” Cuban said. “They’ve got to come together and play as a team. Hopefully, they won’t figure it out tonight.”

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