Terry scored the last four points in overtime, after hitting a tying 15-footer with a half-second remaining in regulation, and the Mavericks came back after blowing a big lead against San Antonio's reserves to beat the Spurs 101-100 Sunday night.
"He put us on his shoulders there," said Nowitzki, who played for the first time after a four-game hiatus to strengthen his sore right knee and do some conditioning work. "He made some great pull-ups. He got to his sweet spot to send it to OT."
Terry put Dallas ahead to stay when he took a pass from Nowitzki and made a 12-foot baseline jumper with 42 seconds left to make it 99-98. After Shawn Marion stole the ball from Gary Neal, Terry got fouled and made both free throws with 17 seconds left.
"It's just the will to win when the game is on the line," Terry said. "I like to take the shot when the game is on the line. ... When my team needs me the most, I'm going to come through regardless of what's going on the entire night. Fourth quarter is winning time."
Terry scored 26 of his season-high 34 points after halftime, though the Spurs still had a chance after his last two free throws.
Neal, who finished with 19 points, drove for a layup and was fouled by Marion with 12 seconds left. But Neal missed a potential tying free throw that was rebounded by Ian Mahinmi, who was fouled and missed two free throw attempts.
After Neal got that rebound and the Spurs called timeout, Vince Carter knocked the ball loose. Danny Green grabbed it and threw up a 3-pointer that ricocheted off the front of the rim as the game ended.
Green and the Spurs thought he had a game-winner at the end of regulation, but his 14-footer was disallowed when replay clearly showed that shot didn't get out of his hands before the buzzer sounded.
"I thought it was good, but I guess it was too good to be true," Green said.
Dallas led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter before San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich decided to go with his reserves. The Spurs' last 51 points after that came from bench players, and they went ahead by as many as nine in the fourth quarter with the help of a flurry of 3-pointers.
"We were just on fire shooting 3s and it got us back in the game. It's as simple as that. I thought the energy defensively was great; we double-teamed everywhere," Popovich said. "They were playing great. There's no sense in taking them off the court."
The last Spurs starter to score was Richard Jefferson on a 3-pointer with 4:28 left in the third quarter. When Jefferson came out less than 2 minutes later, the only starter to re-enter the game was Kawhi Leonard for 1.1 seconds in overtime.
Terry's tying shot at the end of regulation was set up after Rodrigue Beaubois, starting for injured Jason Kidd, drove for a layup with 30 seconds left and then blocked a shot on a drive by Neal. Nowitzki grabbed the rebound and got the ball to Terry.
San Antonio still had a chance to win the game. Green swished his jumper off the inbound pass, but officials looked at the replay before ruling it didn't count and sending the game to overtime.
"We got a little lucky there," Nowitzki said. "I thought it was over."
Carter had 21 points, his most with the Mavericks, while Beaubois had 14. Nowitzki had 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting with 13 rebounds.
"I'm moving better," Nowitzki said. "Definitely that was an improvement from before. I'm going to keep working and get back to normal soon."
Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan and Green each had 12 points for the Spurs.
Dallas (13-8) took over the Southwest Division lead, ahead of Houston (12-8) and the Spurs (12-9).
The Mavericks had a 67-49 lead after Terry's basket with 3:48 left in the third quarter. That's when San Antonio's reserves took over.
There were seven consecutive points to cut the gap, that capped by Matt Bonner's 3-pointer that helped ignite a frenzy of 3-pointers.
San Antonio opened the fourth quarter with a 17-2 surge that included five 3-pointers. Bonner's trey from the right wing with 8:24 left in regulation put the Spurs up 75-71.
That was from about the same spot that Green had hit before a missed shot by Nowitzki.
San Antonio, which made seven 3s in the fourth quarter, led 84-75 with 5½ minutes left when Neal stole the ball from Terry and had a fast-break jumper. It was still 89-81 only 2 minutes later when Neal made a 3-pointer.
"We were unable to capitalize on it," Neal said. "They were able to make shots and forced it into overtime."
Notes: Kidd has a right calf strain, and is expected to miss at least five games. ... San Antonio finished with 12 3s, which was four less than they made when the teams first played 3½ weeks ago when the Spurs won 93-72 at home. ... Manu Ginobili (broken left hand) missed his 16th consecutive game for the Spurs, while T.J. Ford (torn left hamstring) has missed 11 in a row. ... When former Mavericks owner Don Carter and his wife were showing on the video board during a timeout in the first quarter, both flashed their 2011 NBA championship rings. ... Brendan Haywood had a season-high five blocked shots for Dallas.