DALLAS -- Rick Carlisle was preaching defense to his squad after some lackluster performances in recent games.
The Mavericks had allowed at least 100 points in four of their last five games. After the Thunder shot nearly 50 percent in the first half, the Mavericks held Oklahoma City to 36 percent shooting (14 of 39) the rest of the way.
"We have been struggling defensively," Nowitzki said. "We wanted to make some adjustments defensively, and I think in the second half they worked pretty good."
Dallas snapped a two-game home losing streak that had Carlisle questioning his team's defense. The Utah Jazz shot 53 percent and the Los Angeles Lakers hit 49 percent in wins over the Mavericks.
There looked to be some carry over into the first half as the Thunder took advantage of 10 Mavericks turnovers for a 55-48 lead at halftime.
"Our effort the whole game was great," Carlisle said. "We kept it to four turnovers in the second half and that was a big key. We made an all out effort."
Jason Terry scored 21 points, and Josh Howard and Jason Kidd each chipped in with 11 for the Mavericks, who have beaten the Thunder franchise -- formerly the Seattle SuperSonics -- nine straight times in Dallas since 2004.
"I was happy to get the win," Terry said. "Although we didn't put an outstanding performance together, we were back out there having fun on the floor."
Kevin Durant, who only had 12 points when the teams met in December, scored 30 on 6 of 18 shooting and grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook added 18 points and six assists.
Terry missed two free throws with 4.7 seconds left to give Oklahoma City, which was out of timeouts, one last chance. Westbrook was wide on a heave from around halfcourt at the buzzer.
Oklahoma City has lost two straight games by one point. San Antonio beat the Thunder 109-108 in overtime on Wednesday night.
"You play well against really good teams, but they're still losses," said Oklahoma City center Nick Collison, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds. "You see how much of a fine line it is between winning and losing."
Nowitzki and Terry led the stretch run for Dallas, scoring 16 of the final 18 points for the Mavericks.
Nowitzki nailed a 16-foot baseline jumper to put Dallas ahead 95-93 with 48.9 seconds left. After Durant missed a 10-footer, Nowitzki hit two foul shots to stretch the lead to four with 30.6 seconds remaining.
Durant converted a three-point play to pull Oklahoma City within one.
Nowitzki hit an 18-footer over Jeff Green from the top of the key to give the Mavericks a 99-96 edge with 6.4 seconds left.
Durant was fouled before he could get a 3-pointer off and hit two free throws with six seconds to go. That set the stage for the frantic finish.
Oklahoma City dropped to 3-4 in January, but those losses have come by a combined 13 points.
"We're going to find a way to win these games," Durant said. "I guarantee you that."
The Thunder led by nine early in the third before the Mavericks went on a 20-6 run.
Terry hit a jumper to tie the game at 68 and Nowitzki added two free throws to put Dallas ahead 70-68, the first time the Mavericks led in the game.
Shawn Marion capped the spurt with a layup that gave the Mavericks a 74-69 lead with 15.1 seconds remaining in the third.
The Thunder, who never trailed in the first half, led by as much as 11 in the second quarter. James Harden's layup gave Oklahoma City a 44-33 advantage with 4:36 left in the half.
Dallas had 10 turnovers in the first half, and Oklahoma City turned those into 16 points.
Dallas F Eduardo Najera was active for the first time since he was traded for on Monday, but he did not play. ... Oklahoma City dropped to 10-9 on the road. ... The Mavericks were 33 of 39 from the foul line, both season highs. ... Kidd hit two 3-pointers and moved into a tie for fifth with Glen Rice on the all-time list with 1,559.