Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson's hometown has been kind to his team.

Johnson and the Mavericks look to remain undefeated in New Orleans and extend an 18-game winning streak against the Hornets when the teams meet Saturday night.

Dallas' last loss in the series was 104-99 on Nov. 17, 1999, when the Hornets franchise was based in Charlotte. The Mavericks' 18-game run against the Hornets is the longest active streak of one team defeating another in the NBA.

The Hornets moved to New Orleans before the 2002-03 season, and the Mavericks (16-7) have won all four games between the teams there. But Dallas' last two road games against New Orleans have been in Oklahoma City, where the Hornets relocated shortly before last season due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Saturday's game will be the third of six played in New Orleans this season. Johnson is a native of the city, and was the interim coach for Don Nelson in Dallas' last game there - a 90-82 Mavericks win on Feb. 2, 2005. Johnson became Dallas' full-time coach a month later.

The Mavericks extended their dominance of the Hornets (10-11) with a 85-73 win at home on Nov. 25.

Dallas was in the middle of a 12-game winning streak then, and has now earned consecutive wins for the first time since with a 93-79 victory over Philadelphia on Friday night.

The Mavericks had alternated losses and wins for six games before defeating the 76ers.

``We haven't played great the last 7-10 days, so every game is a test for us right now,'' said Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, who was held to 13 points against Philadelphia after averaging 26 over his previous six contests.

Guard Jason Terry has been solid in Dallas' last two games, averaging 22 points and shooting 51 percent (14-for-27) from the field while making all 10 of his free throws. However, he was held to seven points in November's matchup with the Hornets.

New Orleans has lost eight of 10 games after a strong start to the season.

Injuries continue to take their toll on the team, as the Hornets dressed only 10 players in a 103-77 loss to San Antonio on Thursday night.

Center Tyson Chandler missed the game with flu-like symptoms. Fellow starters David West (elbow) and Peja Stojakovic (back spasms) have been out for several weeks, and the Hornets' top reserve, Bobby Jackson (cracked rib) has missed the last six games.

``In the long run, this is going to help us. It will probably toughen us up a little bit more,'' Hornets coach Byron Scott said. ``It's good that this is happening early.''

New Orleans guard Chris Paul finished with six points against the Spurs, 12.8 below his average entering the game. He had 30 points and 11 assists in a win over Cleveland on Monday.

Paul is averaging 17.6 points and shooting 55 percent (33-for-59) from the field in five career games against Dallas.


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