Josh Howard added 15 points and Devin Harris had 12 to help the Mavericks beat the Hornets for the 20th consecutive time, the longest active streak in the four major North American professional sports.
The last time the Hornets beat the Mavericks was on Nov. 17, 1999.
New Orleans grabbed a brief 34-33 lead with 8:44 left until halftime before Dallas took control with a 19-8 run over the rest of the quarter.
"We lost focus and had some lapses," Howard said. "But we turned it up and finished strong."
Dallas improved to an NBA-best 23-7, but the Mavericks were far from perfect against the short-handed Hornets.
"We definitely needed to win this game tonight," Terry said. "For the most part, we did a decent job, but for a couple of stretches we didn't play the kind of defense we're capable of. We could have easily given the game away, but I don't think you're going to see that from our team."
The victory boosted Avery Johnson's head coaching record to 99-31. The late Red Auerbach holds the NBA record for quickest to 100 coaching victories, reaching the milestone in 135 games.
Chris Paul, the Hornets' leader with 18.4 points and 9.0 assists per game, sat out his third straight because of a sprained right ankle that will keep him sidelined for a month.
The Hornets have lost eight of their last 10.
"It's like climbing Mt. Everest without the rope," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "But that's how it is. Our young guys are getting some valuable experience."
Dallas hit eight straight field goal attempts during a first-quarter run and had a 10-0 spurt in the second quarter to build a 53-41 halftime lead.
Terry had 17 first-half points and Howard added 12, but Nowitzki took only five shots from the floor and had seven points in the opening half.
The Mavericks opened the third quarter with a 13-2 run, led by six points from Nowitzki, for a 66-43 edge, and the rout was on.
"Even though those guys (the Hornets) were short-handed, we wanted to show them the same respect," Dallas' Anthony Johnson said. "Even though we were inconsistent at times, overall we played well."
Dallas went on to lead by as many as 26 points and took a 77-56 advantage into the final quarter.
New Orleans couldn't get closer than 11 points in the fourth.
"They (the Mavericks) are very good and very deep," Scott said. "We didn't think we would have an easy night against this team. Being the championship team that they are, they tightened up, got stops when they needed them."
- The Mavericks' season-best winning streak was 12 games from Nov. 9-Dec. 1.
- Dallas F Jerry Stackhouse missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. Avery Johnson said Stackhouse would also sit out Sunday night's game in Denver, then will test the ankle in practice next week.
- Dallas has scored 30 or more points in the first quarter 14 times this season.
- The Mavericks are 11-0 when they hold their opponent below 90 points.
- Nowitzki has led the Mavericks in scoring only once in the last nine games after doing so 17 times in the first 21 games.