Thanks to Devean George's three-pointer with two seconds left in the second quarter, the Mavericks went into halftime of their Dirkless game trailing only 52-50. Obviously someone was going to have to be assertive to replace Dirk's offense and Jason Terry did a nice job with 17 points in the first half.
Then starting off the second half, Jason Kidd got more aggressive. Despite Avery Johnson's urging, Kidd still is not that aggressive on offense. He had only two first half points. But he took long shots on consecutive trips down the floor -- a three-pointer and two-pointer -- and brought the Mavericks to a 55-55 tie.
The Rockets, however, are smooth. It would likely be different with Dirk here, but, of course, the Rockets are also playing without Yao Ming and after four consecutive victories since his foot injury, they are playing with a lot of confidence.
So at this point -- seven minutes left in the third quarter -- Houston leads by eight at 66-58 and shows no signs of folding.
-- Jan Hubbard