The Houston Rockets came into Dallas with something to prove and came out with a win.
And you can take my word that the bad blood is still brewing between these division rivals.
There was a lot of promising things that took place tonight for the Mavericks.
Josh Howard certainly caught the eye with a blast from the past performance, playing to his strengths, slashing and using his raw athletic ability to collect 28 points and 11 rebounds with no turnovers.
Dirk Nowitzki is also looking in midseason form, at least in the first half where he looked unstoppable. However, judging by his rhythm in the second half he looked like he was thinking too much instead of just reacting. I suppose that is to be expected in a new offense with a new coach.
Rick Carlisle is definitely preaching an up-tempo pace that worked quite well in the first half against the Rockets. Alas, the stops on the other side came few-and-far-between, especially in the fourth quarter.
Another of the bright spots was the 37 fast-break points which helped to mount a comeback more then once in the game, but the Mavs poor shooting eventually caught up to them.
The Mavericks shot 4-for-16 at the three-point line.
Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse were both streaky, unable to match the stellar play of Yao Ming and Ron Artest who combined for 59 points.
If you think about it, Houston did this all without Tracy McGrady playing at his top level, and don't forget the intangibles Shane Battier brings on the defensive end.
So don't just give the West to the Lakers.
Keep a eye out on this well-oiled machine called the Houston Rockets.
It looks like the Mavericks got an early measuring stick of what its going to take to play with the big boys of the West, and I think, with a little patience and consistency, the Mavs will be better off than a lot of people think, provided they play smart, energetic defense.