Johnson, the Mavs' former coach, will be making his return to Dallas tonight as the Nets try and halt a 10-game losing streak at American Airlines Center. He spent three-plus seasons mentoring Dallas, compiling an impressive 194-70 regular season record, along with a more pedestrian 23-24 mark in the postseason.
Johnson piloted the Mavericks to the NBA finals in 2006 where they lost to the Miami Heat and was then fired after the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs during the following two seasons.
"It's going to be tough," Dallas guard Jason Terry told the Mavericks' 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."
Most recently the Mavs won the opener of the residency on Tuesday when Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 25 points, and Dallas held off Golden State down the stretch to notch a 105-100 win, their 10th straight overall.
Terry added 20 points for the Mavericks, who last lost on November 19 and have recorded their first 10-game run since ripping off 13 straight from February 17-March 10, 2010.
"No question these guys are a bitter rival, and any time we play against the Warriors it's going to be a tough game," Terry said. "Tonight, we did what we had to do to come out with the win."
Caron Butler contributed with 19 points, while Ian Mahinmi had his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas, which has defeated Golden State four straight times. Mahinmi played a career-high 21 minutes because starting center Tyson Chandler was down with a stomach bug.
The Mavs, who are 9-3 in Big D, will finish their residency with games against Utah, Milwaukee, Portland and Phoenix.
The Nets, meanwhile, have been headed in the opposite direction losing for the fifth straight time on Tuesday in Atlanta when Josh Smith scored a season-high 34 points in the Hawks' 116-101 victory over New Jersey at Philips Arena.
Brook Lopez had 24 points to lead the slumping Nets, who have dropped 10 of their last 12 games overall and are now an Eastern Conference-worst 6-16 on the year. Devin Harris added 18 points and 13 assists in the loss.
"It was another game where we sustained our effort," Lopez said. "We came out with good effort, sustained it for the most part except for a little second quarter lull... We ended the half poorly. Obviously, that hurt us. We were playing catch up the entire game."