DALLAS, April 8 (Ticker) -- Jason Terry would not allow the Dallas Mavericks to have a letdown.

Terry scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half as the Mavericks coasted to a 101-77 victory over the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, whose playoff hopes took another hit.

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Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points and Josh Howard added 19 for Dallas (58-19), which pulled within one-half game of San Antonio for first place in the Southwest Division. Dallas was coming off Friday's 92-86 win at San Antonio.

"We really approached this game like a must win," Nowitzki said. "We just made up a game last night on San Antonio in the lead and we didn't want to turn around and hand it right back. That's the focus we had."

Behind Terry and Nowitzki, who scored 13 points in the first half, the Mavericks opened a 56-49 halftime lead. They extended the advantage to 78-60 after three quarters.

"My job is to come out and be aggressive," Terry said. "Be aggressive at both ends of the floor every night. If I'm going to be one of the leaders on this team, I have to do that."

"They did whatever they wanted to do," Hornets forward P.J. Brown said. "They showed why they are one of the top three teams in the league."

Erick Dampier added 10 rebounds for Dallas, which held a 48-30 advantage on the boards.

"Rebounding the ball is always an issue with us," Nowitzki said.

Rasual Butler scored 14 points and Brown 12 for New Orleans/Oklahoma City (37-39), which fell into a tie with the Utah Jazz, 2 1/2 games behind Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers for the Western Conference's final playoff spot with six contests remaining.

"It hurts," Brown said about his team's playoff chances. "We can't afford to lose any games so it hurts our chances. It makes our chances even slimmer now."