DALLAS — The defending NBA champions began tonight's game without Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Kidd left a couple of minutes into the first quarter.

Their absence hasn't been noticed on the American Airlines Center scoreboard.

The Mavericks lead Utah 58-50 at halftime and are 24 minutes away from beating the Jazz for the sixth time in a row.

Guard Rodrigue Beaubois has filled the offensive gap left by Nowitzki and Kidd just fine, scoring 16 points.

Vince Carter has 11 points in his return, and Jason Terry has chipped in with eight.

The Jazz have been fine offensively, with Al Jefferson coming back from his ankle injury to score 12 points and former Dallas guard Devin Harris adding 10.

But Dallas has shot 59.5 percent, including a 5-for-9 half from 3-point range.

Raja Bell has scored five points after his availability for tonight's game was in question because of a sore back and right knee.

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