Carlesimo era begins for Nets versus Bobcats

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Updated: December 28, 2012

(Sports Network) – The P.J. Carlesimo era begins Friday night for the Brooklyn
Nets when they welcome the struggling Charlotte Bobcats to the Barclays
Center.

The Nets relieved Avery Johnson of head-coaching duties on Thursday afternoon
and replaced him on an interim basis with his top assistant, Carlesimo.

The Johnson-led Nets were 3-10 in the month of December after an 11-4 mark in
November earned Johnson the Coach of the Month honors in the Eastern
Conference.

But the team’s struggles and possible friction with star guard Deron Williams
led to Johnson’s ouster. The reigns have been handed to Carlesimo, who has
been a head coach three times in the NBA.

“P.J. will be the interim coach at this time,” said general manager Billy King
at Thursday’s press conference. “Will we look other places? We may, but at
this time PJ’s our interim head coach. He’ll be coaching tomorrow. The
remaining staff will stay with him and we’ll go forward from there.”

The Nets really fell hard, starting with a 17-point loss Christmas Day, at
home, to the Boston Celtics. The next night, they fell by 15 on the road in
Milwaukee.

The next day, their coach was fired.

All has not been terrible in Brooklyn, especially on the defensive end. The
Nets rank sixth in opponents’ scoring and have not allowed an opponent to
shoot over 50 percent from the field in their last 10 games.

Williams (bruised right wrist) and Kris Humphries (sore abdominal muscle) are
both questionable for Friday night’s game.

If the Nets have struggled in December, the Bobcats are in a whole other
category. Charlotte has lost 16 straight and hasn’t won since a double-
overtime thriller over the Washington Wizards on Nov. 24.

Their most recent setback came Wednesday against the defending champion Miami
Heat. Charlotte fell 105-92 and Miami built a 17-point lead at the half. The
Bobcats stormed out in the third quarter, won that by 10, but eventually fell
by a hefty margin.

“I told my guys they will only give you one chance, and we reeled them back in
and then just kind of hung around,” said Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap of the
team’s second-half performance. “If you look at our seven wins, that’s how
we’ve won. We haven’t just whipped anybody, we’ve barely won in all of those
seven games. This game had that same kind of feel to it.”

Kemba Walker led the way with 27 points, while Ramon Sessions chipped in 19
off the bench. Byron Mullens missed the game with a sprained ankle and will be
out Friday. Ben Gordon also sat out versus the Heat with a right knee injury
and he will be a game-time decision.

The Nets swept all four meetings last season, but the Bobcats are 3-2 in their
last five on the road in this series.