Nowitzki, who was 3-of-13 from the field the first three quarters, hit 4-of-5 down the stretch and scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth as the Mavericks rallied to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 115-103.
"I had open shots all night," Nowitzki said. "I don't know what happened. My first shot went way over the hoop. I don't know what was going on.
"My team counts on me to be aggressive offensively. So I stayed with it, and I was just glad in the fourth quarter, my shots started to go down."
The Mavericks scored 40 points in the period, including a 13-2 run to erase an early Memphis lead in the fourth.
Erick Dampier added 22 points and 15 rebounds as Dallas won its fourth straight.
Dampier's bulk was too much for the smaller Memphis frontline. He was 8-of-11 from the field, many of them on dunks or second-chance points, sending the Grizzlies to their sixth straight loss. The win puts the Mavericks at .500 for the first time this season after they dropped their first four games.
"I tried to be aggressive, and guys found me when I was open," Dampier said. "I just tried to finish when I got the ball around the basket and grab rebounds."
Hakim Warrick led Memphis with a career-high 26 points, while Stromile Swift added 21 and Mike Miller finished with 16. Chucky Atkins and Damon Stoudamire scored 11 apiece and each handed out five assists.
After Dallas' fourth-quarter run to take the lead, the Grizzlies cut the deficit to two on a couple of occasions down the stretch. But Nowitzki's 20-foot jumper with 1:36 left extended the Dallas lead to 104-93.
Kyle Lowry's steal and layup in the closing seconds of the half gave Memphis a 57-51 lead at the break. At one point in the first half, Memphis was connecting on 67 percent from the field and better than 90 percent from the line.
Memphis ended up shooting 53 percent from the field in the half, despite missing all three 3-pointers, and hit 19 of 21 free throws. The Grizzlies shot 51 percent for the game.
Early, it appeared the Mavericks would dominate with their bulk inside against the smaller Grizzlies. Dampier controlled the boards as Dallas grabbed the game's first six rebounds, including four off their own glass.
"Dampier had nine offensive rebounds (for the game), which was as many as our whole team got," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said.
Nowitzki, meanwhile, missed his first five shots and picked up a pair of quick fouls as he was limited to seven points in the first half.
It was the second straight game Memphis has surpassed 100 points. The Grizzlies are relying on younger players and a faster pace. Most players seem to like the up-tempo approach and think it can be successful.
"If we can play like that for 48 minutes, we're going to win our share of games," Swift said. "We played maybe 42 good minutes and took six off. We can't do that and win games because it's a thin line for us right now."
- The last time the Mavericks were in Memphis, they were closing out a first-round sweep of the Grizzlies in the opening round of last season's playoffs.
- Dallas swingman Josh Howard missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
- Memphis G Eddie Jones sat out his second straight game with right Achilles tendinitis.
- The Memphis marketers didn't waste any time building a promotion around rookie Rudy Gay. Replicas of Gay's No. 22 jerseys were given out before Friday's game. Gay also got his first home start of the season.
- Memphis was returning home from a three-game Western swing, where it lost to Phoenix, the Lakers and Sacramento.
- In one of those unique back-to-backs by league schedulers, the teams could have shared a charter flight after the game. They play each other Saturday night in Dallas.