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Dallas stuns loaded Lakers in opener, 99-91

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Dallas stuns loaded Lakers in opener, 99-91

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Lakers have spent a month together now, and they still haven't won a game. They acknowledge it's a struggle to blend this new combination of talents into a cohesive team.

The Dallas Mavericks were happy to show them how it's done in a stunning season opener.

Darren Collison scored 17 points, Brandan Wright added 14, and the Mavericks spoiled the Los Angeles debuts of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash with a 99-91 victory over the Lakers on Tuesday night.

O.J. Mayo had 12 points as the Mavericks comfortably beat the star-studded Lakers, pulling away steadily in a drama-free second half without any help from injured Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas and Los Angeles both made big offseason moves that upended two contending teams, yet the Mavericks were much more together than their high-profile rivals.

``It was very satisfying to be up 16 points against that team, with all the low expectations (people had) for us,'' said Elton Brand, who had eight points and 11 rebounds in his first game for Dallas.

While the Mavericks celebrated an energizing win, the Lakers' superstar newcomers both had debuts to forget.

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 what 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 during their 0-8 preseason due to Kobe Bryant's nagging injuries and Howard's deliberate return from back surgery.

``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.''

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,'' the two-time NBA MVP said. ``We're out of sync, and we're going to probably have some more moments in games like that.''

Bryant scored 22 points while playing on an injured right foot for the Lakers, whose loaded lineup produced 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.

``It's not the way we wanted it to go,'' said Pau 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.

``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.''

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. The Lakers were 12 for 31 altogether from the free-throw line, including Jordan Hill's 1-for-6 effort - 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 matching up with the Lakers down low.

``It was energy and effort tonight for us,'' Marion said. ``We were resilient, we kept coming, and we did what we needed to do to get a win.''

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.

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For the third time this season, the Orioles have put a position player on the mound

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For the third time this season, the Orioles have put a position player on the mound

It is rarely a good situation when a team has a position player take the mound. Usually, it's because one team is losing by plenty of runs, and don't want to waste a bullpen arm on a game that has already been decided.

For the Orioles, a lot more has gone wrong than right thus far in 2019. They are 1-10 at home, and only two teams in all of baseball have a worse overall record.

On Monday, Baltimore was blown out by the Chicago White Sox, 12-2, behind three different four-run innings. With the game well in hand, the Orioles put catcher Jesus Sucre on the mound to pitch the ninth.

It's the third time Baltimore has used a position player to pitch this season. It's the second time in three days, as Chris Davis took the mound for the Orioles on Saturday. The 2019 season is just barely over three weeks old.

No matter how bad Baltimore was expected to be, this situation is never ideal.

Sucre did pitch a scoreless ninth, however. The next time the Orioles are in a lopsided game, don't be surprised if he takes the mound again.

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Brian Dozier's power on display once again with moonshot HR in Colorado

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Brian Dozier's power on display once again with moonshot HR in Colorado

After a very slow start to the season, Nationals' second baseman Brian Dozier has been seeing the ball a lot better over the past few games.

On Monday, Dozier took Rockies pitcher Tyler Anderson deep in the fourth inning to give the Nationals a three-run lead, his third home run in the last four games.

He went deep against Miami twice over the weekend, both solo shots. The first came during Friday's 3-2 loss and the latter in Sunday's 5-0 victory.

This one, though, was a no-doubter. Take a look.

After staring for a brief second, Dozier didn't need to look any longer; he knew the ball was several rows into the seats. That altitude in Colorado definitely helped, as the home run landed 435 feet away.

Dozier has struggled to hit for contact thus far in 2019, posting just a .177 average entering Monday. But when the ball has hit the bat, it's traveled a long way.

For the Nationals sake, hopefully Dozier's power continues. They're counting on better production from the seven-year veteran than they have received thus far in 2019.

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