Dallas rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Phoenix on Sunday. The Mavericks again responded with a late spurt Tuesday to shake the lowly Sonics and solidify their standing in the competitive Western Conference postseason chase.
The Mavericks came into the game with a two-game lead over Denver and Golden State in the race for seventh place in the West.
"All these games are big for us," Terry said. "We can't afford to slip up, especially at home. We were playing a team with nothing to lose. You know they're going to play hard. We just have to play harder than them."
The Sonics -- who lost their club-record 60th game -- kept the game close until the fourth quarter. Seattle was within six before Dallas went on an 18-4 run to put the contest out of reach.
Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd believes his team is headed in the right direction as the season moves toward the final week.
"This is not a bad time to be playing your best basketball with the playoffs right around the corner," Kidd said. "We've had our tough spells. But we've bent but didn't break. We're getting confident and playing at a high level."
Seattle scored 151 points in a double-overtime win against Denver on Sunday. But the Sonics shot 38 percent from the floor and failed to generate a consistent offensive attack against the Mavericks.
"I just didn't think we played very smart," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "It was more of the offensive shot selection. We had too many possessions where we didn't get good shots. That hurt us more than anything else."
Watson hit a jumper that brought Seattle within 73-67 early in the fourth quarter. But Nowitzki started Dallas' fourth-quarter surge with a 3-pointer and a jumper to extend the lead to 78-67.
The Sonics inched within 80-71 when Watson connected on an another jumper before the Mavericks scored the next 11 points. Terry capped the run with a pair of layups as the Mavericks beat the Sonics for the 13th straight time, dating to Dec. 9, 2004.
"Once we got our defense rolling, we were able to get in transition for some easy baskets," Terry said.
Terry, who shot 9-of-11, scored 12 points in the first half as the Mavericks led 46-44 at halftime. The Sonics got within one early in the second half before the Mavericks started building their lead.
Howard's three-point play gave the Mavericks a 70-60 cushion before Durant answered with one of his own to cut the lead to seven after three quarters.
Mavericks coach Avery Johnson expects F Jerry Stackhouse (right groin strain) to return to full-contact practice by the end of the week. Stackhouse participated in the team shootaround Tuesday morning and has had some non-contact practice. "He did OK," Johnson said. "I hope he can return to full-contact by Friday." Dallas was also without F Malik Allen (back spasms), who missed his second straight game. ... Seattle F Donyell Marshall (right knee soreness) missed the game. He had an MRI Tuesday, and Carlesimo said Marshall's status is day-to-day. ... Seattle's previous record for losses in a season was 59 its inaugural campaign, 1967-68.