The Steve Nash Era started with a roar, the decibel level inside Staples Center reaching earsplitting proportions when the point guard was introduced before his first game as a Laker.
There was mostly audible unease for the next 48 minutes.
Nash and the new Lakers offense weren’t exactly a revelation during a 99-91 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night in their opener.
The two-time most valuable player seemed unsure of himself, doing little directing or his trademark pick and rolls.
Nash’s final line of seven points on three-for-nine shooting to go with four assists in 34 minutes hardly seemed worthy of an eight-time All-Star, even one approaching the end of his career at 38.
“It is frustrating a little bit because I feel like we’re thinking too much instead of playing,” Nash said of adjusting to a new offense after spending the last eight seasons with the Phoenix Suns. “At the same time, we don’t have the confidence just to play. We’re not totally confident in where we’re going. But we’ve grown a lot. We’ve come a long way with it and we’ll get better with it.”
Widely regarded as one of the best shooters of his generation, Nash made only one of four three-pointers and finished with fewer assists than his backup, Steve Blake, who had six.
“I need to assert myself more in pick-and-roll situations,” Nash said.
“I’m caught trying to get the ball moving in the Princeton [offense] and get us into different sets and opportunities, and tonight we didn’t do a good job getting into the Princeton and we didn’t get a lot of stuff in pick-and-roll actions.
“So it’s growing pains and it’s a struggle and we’re out of sync and we’re probably going to have some more moments and games like that.”
Nash’s best moment might have come on a prerecorded segment shown on the video board in the first half. Asked about his first car, Nash quipped: “I went to a college that didn’t pay its athletes, so I didn’t have a car.”
The Lakers’ offense seemed out of gear for much of the game, finishing with seven fastbreak points.
Things were particularly difficult for Nash on defense, where his age was increasingly apparent. O.J. Mayo almost effortlessly sank a turnaround jumper over Nash in the early going and Rodrigue Beaubois went in for a layup
after stealing the ball from the veteran.
Then, as Dallas stretched its lead to double digits in the third quarter, Darren Collison twice elevated for jumpers with Nash providing scant resistance. Collison badly outplayed Nash, finishing with 17 points while making eight of 12 shots.
“Obviously, it was a disappointing night for us,” Nash said. “We have high expectations and tonight we didn’t play well.”