HOUSTON, March 6 (Ticker) -- Without leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki and guard Michael Finley, the Dallas Mavericks' offense was virtually non-existent.

The Mavericks were held to their lowest total of the season in a 90-69 loss to the Houston Rockets, who got 32 points from Tracy McGrady.

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"It helps when they've got 40 points sitting on the bench," said McGrady, who took a shot to the chin in the first half that required six stitches. "They played us tough for three quarters. We got some transition points in the fourth quarter and made a little run on them."

With Finley already sidelined due a bruised left calf, Nowitzki, an All-Star averaging 27 points and 11 rebounds, was a late scratch with swelling in his right knee.

"I wanted to play, but the doctor said no," said Nowitzki, who will undergo an MRI on Monday. "Hopefully, it's just a bruise and I'll be back soon."

The NBA's second-highest scoring team at just under 103 points per game, was held 11 points below its previous season low at San Antonio on November 24.

The Rockets used a 23-4 spurt to turn a two-point lead late in the third quarter into an 80-59 advantage with 5:35 remaining. McGrady scored 10 points in the surge, including a pair of 3-pointers that quickly helped widen the lead.

"We hung around for a long time," Mavericks coach Don Nelson said. "We played well for three quarters, and if we had made some of our shots it could have been a different game."

McGrady, who was stitched in the locker room after being accidently hit in the first quarter, hit a jumper to put the Rockets ahead for good, 48-47, with 7:48 left in the third quarter.

After the Mavericks shot 34 percent (13-of-38) and trailed, 44-35, at intermission, Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse each scored six points in a 12-0 spurt that gave Dallas a 47-46 lead early in the third quarter. But the Rockets responded with an 8-0 run before breaking it open in the fourth period.

Houston won for only the second time in six games since the All-Star break.

"We had a couple of bad offensive possessions in the fourth quarter and then they got two steals, had a couple of layups, and before you knew it, we were down by 14," said Keith Van Horn, who started for Nowitzki and scored 12 points. "They stepped up the defensive pressure and that led to their offensive surge."

The first half featured sloppy play by both teams with Houston shooting only 42.5 percent (17-of-40).

"When a team loses a player like Nowitzki, I thought we did a good job in just staying mentally ready, knowing that Terry, Stackhouse and Van Horn have all averaged 20 points in this league," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "There's no exhaling or breathing a sigh of relief."

Terry scored 20 points for the Mavericks, who went 0-3 on their road trip.