"It was a disappointing loss the other day but a big win tonight," Nowitzki said. "We need that confidence when we go to Boston on Sunday to play the world champions."
Brandon Bass added a season-high 18 points, and Jason Kidd had 11 points and 10 assists for Dallas, which lost 133-99 to the Bucks.
"The last time we were out on the floor, we gave up 133 points, so I don't think Coach was going to need to say much to make us understand that we needed to come out hard," Kidd said. "After Milwaukee, tonight was about pride."
The Pistons have been up and down since Allen Iverson's first game, posting a disappointing 3-7 record in their most recent 10-game stretch. Here's a look at how they've fared since his arrival:
Detroit Pistons Since Allen Iverson's First Game (Nov. 7)
Richard Hamilton, coming off the bench for just the second time in his Detroit career, led the Pistons with 17 points, and Tayshaun Prince added 12 -- 10 from the free-throw line. Allen Iverson finished with 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting.
"We couldn't do anything in transition, because we never got any stops," Iverson said. "We just got outplayed on both ends of the floor."
Dallas shot 66 percent in the first half, building a 63-51 lead.
"I liked the way we responded tonight," Nowitzki said. "Detroit is a great basketball team, especially at home, so it was important for us to come out at the start and make things happen."
Howard, Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined for 43 points in the half.
"I tried to stop Dirk, but when a 7-footer is shooting that fade, it is tough to do anything against him," said Amir Johnson, who has been starting instead of Hamilton. "They are a tough matchup for us, but we've got to play better than that."
Things didn't get any better for Detroit in the second half, as the Mavericks led by 18 at the end of the third and by 25 in the fourth.
"We didn't have good offensive possessions, we didn't have good defensive possessions and we got our tails kicked tonight," Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "Their shooters got off to a great start and it pretty much snowballed on us from there."
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle thought Kidd's double-double was a key to the improved performance.
"I thought he really set the tone," he said. "His playmaking was huge and we're using him a lot more playmaking situations."
The Mavericks will go for the first season sweep by either team when they face the Pistons in Dallas on March 17. ... The Mavericks only scored 67 points in their last visit to the Palace -- a 23-point loss last Feb. 3 -- but surpassed that total in the first 4 minutes of the third quarter Friday. ... The game was delayed for a couple minutes after referee Michael Smith was injured with 51.8 seconds to play. Smith, who got hit in the side of the head, finished the game, but said he was "a little bit groggy."