With 2:54 remaining in the game and Hoston leading 116-111, Howard drew a foul as he looked to score in traffic underneath the hoop. The ball bounced back to him off the stanchion and he dribbled a few times to collect himself after the contact. Before Howard could give the ball to a referee, though, he found himself distracted by a fan seated in the baseline seats.
Howard turned to look over his right shoulder at the pointing man before softly tossing the ball to the man, who slapped it away in response. Howard's toss drew a quick technical foul, and Dirk Nowitzki gladly stepped to the stripe to cash in the mistake for a free point.
Dallas went on a 12-4 run following the technical foul to close out a come-from-behind victory.
Howard, 27, will earn $20.5 million this season.
Mavericks guard Monta Ellis finished with a game-high 37 points (on 13-for-18 shooting) and Nowitzki added 35 points (on 13-for-20 shooting) to power an 18-point comeback victory.
Dallas improved to 8-4 with the win; Houston dropped to 8-5 with the loss.