Despite trailing by double digits in the first half, and six points late in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks rallied to force overtime before beating the Pacers 115-113 on Friday night.
"We've been in a lot of close games, that's what got us to the finals last year," said Nowitzki, who scored a season-high 43 points, including three free throws in the final five seconds of overtime to seal the win. "We learned last year how to close big games out, and that's what you've got to do."
Dallas' only setback since Dec. 13 was a 101-98 loss at the Lakers on Jan. 7. The Mavericks have won three straight since then.
"This was thrilling," Terry said. "When you can come out on an off-night defensively and still pull it out on the road, against a tough Indiana team, that says a lot about your team."
In overtime, Danny Granger gave the Pacers a 107-105 lead with a 3-pointer, but Nowitzki came right back with a 3 of his own to put Dallas back in front.
After the teams traded baskets, Jermaine O'Neal's layup put Indiana ahead by a point, but again the Mavericks answered with Terry's jumper for a 112-111 lead with 27.8 seconds remaining.
Following a miss by O'Neal on Indiana's ensuing possession, Nowitzki made two free throws to extend the lead to three with 5.1 seconds left. Al Harrington made two free throws to pull the Pacers to 114-113, and Nowitzki hit one free throw with two seconds left to close the scoring.
The Pacers had one final chance, but Jeff Foster's long-range pass was tipped away by Dallas defenders.
"Dirk is our MVP," Terry said. "He's been doing it for years, and that performance was no different."
O'Neal finished with 26 points and nine rebounds, Granger and Stephen Jackson each scored 22, and Jamaal Tinsley added 17 points and 11 assists for the Pacers (20-17), who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
"It's disappointing to come out on the short end because we played hard," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "We fought hard and we were in a position to win."
Indiana took a 99-93 lead after two free throws by Granger with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter. Dallas scored seven of the next nine points, including a three-point play by Terry to cut the deficit to 101-100 with less than 2 minutes left.
"I don't think that was the time to panic," Nowitzki said of falling behind by six points. "We got some big stops and made some big shots."
Terry's 3-pointer put the Mavericks ahead 103-101 with 36 seconds left, but Tinsley's two free throws tied the score.
On Dallas' next possession, Terry had the ball striped away by Tinsley on a drive to the basket, giving Indiana a shot to win the game in regulation. However, O'Neal's jumper with less than 10 seconds remaining came up short and Granger's tip-in attempt was blocked.
"It was another brawl tonight. ... One of those old heavy weight Joe Louis, Joe Frazier-type of brawls," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We weren't at our best tonight, but championship-caliber teams hate to lose."
- Nowitzki rolled his right ankle late in the fourth quarter after stepping on Harrington's foot while setting a screen. Nowitzki went to the bench briefly, but he did return. He's expected to play Sunday at Toronto. "It's a little sore, but I've seen it plenty of times," he said after the game.
- Former Pacers Anthony Johnson and Austin Croshere returned to Conseco Fieldhouse for the first time since being traded to Dallas in the offseason. Johnson, who received an ovation from the crowd, finished with one point. Croshere did not play.
- The Mavericks won their fourth straight game against Indiana.
- Dallas improved to 9-2 against Eastern Conference teams this season, while Indiana fell to 5-8 against the West.
- Dallas beat Indiana for the second time in nine days, sweeping the season series.