Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points with 10 rebounds and the Mavericks extended their winning streak to 11 games with a 102-89 victory over the New Jersey Nets, spoiling Avery Johnson’s return to Dallas.
Shawn Marion added 18 points off the bench, while Caron Butler and Jason Terry both scored 15 to keep Dallas unbeaten since November 19.
“Give credit to the defense,” said Butler. “That’s something we’ve honed since training camp.”
New Jersey got 24 points from Brook Lopez and 21 from Anthony Morrow, but saw its losing streak extended to six games.
Johnson spent three-plus seasons in Dallas, compiling an impressive regular season record but a pedestrian mark in the postseason, and was fired after the Mavs were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs two straight years.
“I was pretty emotional,” said Johnson, who returned to coach against the Mavs in Dallas for the first time and saw his Nets stumble early.
Not only did they end the first quarter in a 30-19 hole, they also lost starting guard Devin Harris to a shoulder injury.
Johnson said Harris’ shoulder is “sore.”
“He took a hard fall,” he said. “It’s not like he tweaked something, that is a hard fall. So, we just have to hope and pray that he stays healthy because he means a lot to our basketball team.”
The Mavericks, riding a wave of wins since their loss three weeks ago to Chicago, upped their lead to 55-40 by halftime behind 14 points from Marion and 13 from Butler. Dallas led by as many as 18 points in the half.
Dallas extended its lead to 21 points with a 7-1 run early in the third quarter. Butler capped the surge with a 20-foot jumper to make it 62-41.
The Nets cut their deficit all the way to five near the end of the quarter, but it was back to 10 at 79-69 entering the fourth.
Kris Humphries pulled New Jersey within eight on a dunk to open the final quarter, but the Nets never got closer than that.
New Jersey shot 42 percent for the game, while Dallas shot 55 percent…The Mavs outscored the Nets on the fastbreak 27-15…Not only has New Jersey lost six in a row, it has dropped 11 of its last 13.