Houston trailed wire-to-wire, never even forging a tie, though they did come close.
The final push came in the fourth quarter, with Houston cutting what was a 20-point deficit to 110-105 on a transition basket from Clint Capela with nine minutes and four seconds remaining.
Houston still trailed by five when a crucial turn of events unfolded.
Russell Westbrook missed a transition layup with 7:19 left that would have sliced the deficit to three.
The Mavericks responded with a 23-8 run that put the game on ice in to 124-111.
James Harden paced Houston with 32 points and 11 assists but missed 13 of 15 three-pointers.
Capela recorded his sixth 20-rebound game in seven starts, pairing 22 boards with 21 points.
Paul Millsap scored 23 points while Jamal Murray and Will Barton had 22 apiece to guide Denver Nuggets past the short-handed Phoenix Suns 116-104.
The Nuggets have won five on the trot and sit second in the western conference at 11-3.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 30 points in another strong start in place of the injured Kyrie Irving as Brooklyn Nets beat New York Knicks 103-101 for their third straight victory.
Meanwhile, Sacramento Kings accounted for Washington Wizards 113-106 with Harrison Barnes matching his season high with 26 points.
In the late game the LA Clippers enjoyed an easy 134-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.