DALLAS (AP) – Winning streaks like the one the Dallas Mavericks are riding were common under Avery Johnson, but his inability to regularly translate that success into deep playoff runs ultimately led to his dismissal in 2008.
Johnson makes his return to Dallas on Thursday night when the New Jersey Nets try to end the Mavericks’ 10-game winning streak and snap a 10-game skid at American Airlines Center.
Johnson spent three-plus seasons coaching Dallas, going 194-70 in the regular season and 23-24 in the playoffs. He guided the Mavericks to the NBA finals in 2006 but was fired after the team was ousted in the first round for the second straight year in 2008.
The kind of success Johnson had in Dallas is what ultimately led to his hiring by the Nets over the summer.
“It’s going to be tough,” Jason Terry told the Mavericks’ official website about facing his former coach. “But then, when the lights are on and we tip it off, it’s time to go to work. It will be fun, but it’s going to be a long night.”
Like the Dallas teams under Johnson, this year’s Mavericks (17-4) are having another good season. They won their 10th straight Tuesday with a 105-100 victory over Golden State.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points and Terry added 20, while seldom-used forwards Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca combined for 15 points and 16 rebounds off the bench.
The two saw playing time with starting center Tyson Chandler sitting out after he missed the morning shootaround with a stomach bug. Mahinmi played a career-high 21 minutes and recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He had played 39 minutes all season before the game.
“Hard work pays,” Mahinmi said. “We’re going to keep doing that. It’s great for both of us.”
Their work on the boards helped Dallas put together another solid defensive effort in the opener of a six-game homestand. The Mavericks are among the league’s best in points allowed at 92.6 per game and have outrebounded six of their last eight opponents.
Dallas’ winning streak is the ninth in franchise history of at least 10 games, including four during Johnson’s tenure.
The Mavericks, who had a 13-game run from Feb. 17-March 10, don’t seem to be in danger of having their winning streak snapped by Johnson’s current team.
New Jersey (6-16) has lost 10 in a row at Dallas since March 2, 2000, getting held to an average of 91.0 points. Overall, the Mavericks have won three in a row between the teams and 16 of 19.
The Nets are trying to stop a five-game overall losing streak. They fell 116-101 at Atlanta on Tuesday for their eighth straight road loss.
Brook Lopez scored 24 points and Devin Harris had 18 points and 13 assists, but the Hawks shot 60.3 percent. That came after Boston shot 50.6 percent en route to a 100-75 win at New Jersey on Sunday.
“We just couldn’t score and we couldn’t stop them from scoring,” Harris said after Tuesday’s loss. “We put ourselves in a position where you’ve got to play perfectly to come back and we didn’t do that.”
Harris, who played three-plus seasons with Johnson in Dallas before being sent to New Jersey as part of the deal involving Jason Kidd, is averaging 21.2 points and 6.4 assists in five games against his former team.
© 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.