One day after the Brooklyn Nets billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov decided to part ways with head coach Avery Johnson after a horrible 3-10 month of December, PJ Carlesimo took the reigns on his franchise and led the Nets to a win over the hapless Charlotte Bobcats 97-81.
There couldn’t be a better team to play your first game as interim coach then the Bobcats, losers of 16 in a row coming in, and it was Carlesimo’s first win since November 2008 when he coached the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 1-12 start to the 2008-09 season. Carlesimo also coached in the NBA prior with Portland and Golden State but may be best known for taking Seton Hall University to the NCAA championship game in 1989.
The Nets came out with focus and energy from the opening tip and it showed with the 18 point lead they took after the first quarter when the Bobcats missed 13 of their first 16 shots to make it easy for the Nets. Brook Lopez was strong in the middle early while Deron Williams looked to be much more aggressive with his shot and pushed the tempo more than usual. Lopez had 12 points, five rebounds and three blocks in the first quarter to lead the rout.
The Nets did not look back after the first and raised their lead in the third quarter to as much as 29 points and this allowed Carlesimo to rest Lopez, Williams and Gerald Wallace the entire fourth quarter. This was something that has not done all year and it will help as the dinged up Nets play the second game of their back to back against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight.
”We came out with a lot more energy,” Williams said. ”I think we had to. I think our backs are against the wall right now.”
Prior to the game Carlesimo was asked about stepping into the head coaching role again in the NBA. “Your head’s spinning a little bit, you’re trying to think of all the things that were second nature,” Carlesimo said. ”Hopefully I haven’t forgotten. I’m old, but hopefully I haven’t forgotten.”
”It’s hard to be confident when you’re not enjoying success. So I think you have to play your way out of it, shoot your way out of it and I thought we did that tonight,” Carlesimo said about the Nets recent struggles.
Carlesimo was candid after the game as well when asked how he thinks his tenure will go with the Nets and what we should expect.
“The problem we have, the challenge we have short-term is that we have six games in nine days and we’re not going to make wholesale changes for sure,” Carlesimo said.
The new Nets interim coach started his new job with a win and he hopes to add another one tonight in his new home in Brooklyn. If Carlesimo wins and gets the Nets to again play hard who knows how things will pan out for him or the Nets.