The Mavericks never stopped playing defense.
Eventually Dallas found its offense, led by Nowtizki's 20 points, and combined with its lockdown defense on Seattle rookie Kevin Durant, the Mavericks easily routed the hapless SuperSonics 90-70 on Friday night.
Dallas won its season-best sixth straight thanks to a harassing defense that wasn't limited to Durant, but certainly frustrated the Sonics' young star.
"I took it as a personal challenge," said Howard, who's physical, aggressive play was largely responsible for the visible frustration on Durant's face and the rookie's 4-for-13 shooting performance. Durant finished with just 15 points.
"I don't want to be shown up by a rookie, so I went out and played [defense]."
Starting a stretch with five of six on the road, Dallas shook off making just 6 of 22 shots in the first quarter, finding an offensive rhythm in the second half to turn the game into a blowout.
Howard added 18 points and 11 rebounds and Jason Terry scored 11 off the bench as Dallas won its 11th straight over the Sonics. The Mavericks' last loss to Seattle was more than three years ago, in December 2004.
"The men tried to buckle down as much as they can defensively," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.
The Mavericks certainly didn't look much like the impressive group that routed Eastern Conference power Detroit at home on Wednesday night. Then again, they didn't need to be against a Sonics franchise they've dominated.
This one was decided fairly early, and Sonics fans were relegated to starting a few Seahawks cheers in the fourth quarter.
"What separates them is they play on both ends of the floor," Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "They didn't have a real good offensive night, but they found a way to win."
The Mavericks were never threatened after Seattle pulled within 28-27 on Wally Szczerbiak's 3-pointer midway through the second quarter. Howard answered with a swooping baseline layup, starting a 12-3 Mavericks run that helped give them a 44-35 lead at halftime.
Dallas finally put away the Sonics, scoring 11 of the final 14 points of the third quarter. Seattle was held to just one field goal over the final 6 1/2 minutes of the quarter -- a short jumper by Nick Collison with 10 seconds left -- and the Mavericks pushed their lead to 20. Seattle managed just 11 points in the third quarter and made just 4 of 14 shots.
"Defensively we were good, contested shots, rebounding," Nowitzki said. "Offensively we weren't really sharp in the first half, [and] settled for a lot of jump shots, but it was good enough, I guess."
Szczerbiak led Seattle with 17 points, but Seattle lost its sixth straight, the last five mostly lackluster efforts. The Sonics briefly flirted with the franchise record for fewest points in a game, 65, before scoring 24 in the fourth quarter -- an offensive outburst for the Sonics on this night.
"We just weren't very good," Carlesimo said.
Collison was the only other Seattle player in double figures with 15 points. Seattle shot just 35 percent.
About the only downside for Dallas was Erick Dampier's consecutive field goals made streak ended -- on his first attempt of the game. Dampier had made 14 straight shots during a three game span, but missed a challenged left-hander in the lane less than three minutes into the game.
Wilcox missed his fourth straight game with a dislocated right pinky finger, and has yet to see how the finger will respond in a full practice.
Terry had to track down 73 tickets for family and friends, playing in his hometown for the first time this season. ... Injured Seattle C Robert Swift could begin workouts again in about two weeks. Swift has played five games this season, slowed by a right knee that is still recovering from major surgery before the; start of the 2006-07 season. ... Seattle F Damien Wilkins celebrated his 28th birthday on Friday. He finished with six points.