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Carlesimo, Nets hand Bobcats 17th straight loss

Friday - 12/28/2012, 10:12pm  ET

By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - The Brooklyn Nets gave P.J. Carlesimo a victory in his debut and the Charlotte Bobcats a 17th straight loss, getting 26 points and 11 rebounds from Brook Lopez in a 97-81 rout Friday night.

A day after firing Avery Johnson, the Nets played as they did last month, when they were 11-4 and Johnson was Eastern Conference coach of the month. They are just 4-10 in December, a slump that cost Johnson his job, but got back over .500 with ease.

Deron Williams added 17 of his 19 points in the first half and Joe Johnson had 16 for the Nets, who led by 29 points and won for just the second time in seven games.

Hakim Warrick scored 13 points and Ramon Sessions had 12 for the Bobcats (7-22), who shot 38 percent and haven't won since tying last season's total with their seventh victory.

Of course, nobody is expecting the Bobcats to be any good. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov believes his team is, and he acted quickly when he didn't like the team's spirit.

He revealed at halftime he had decided to fire Johnson last week, even before the lackluster performance on national TV against Boston on Christmas that preceded a dismal showing Wednesday in Milwaukee. The Nets fired Johnson on Thursday and promoted Carlesimo, his assistant, to interim coach.

Though names such as Phil Jackson and other top coaches have already been mentioned as replacements, Prokhorov said he wants Carlesimo to be the coach and the Nets to support him.

Carlesimo last coached his own team when he was fired by the Oklahoma City Thunder after a 1-12 start to the 2008-09 season. He previously had stints in Portland and Golden State, but said before the game he was a little more apprehensive than normal for his return to running his own club.

"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 was quickly obvious he had nothing to worry about.

The Bobcats missed 13 of their first 16 shots, making it easy for the Nets. Brooklyn scored nine straight in the middle of the first quarter to open a 12-point lead, extended it to 18 later in the period, and were ahead 33-15 headed to the second.

Williams, who missed Wednesday's game with a bruised right wrist and came into the game shooting under 40 percent for the season, was 7 of 14 from the field. Lopez, the starting center whose seven-game absence with a foot injury started the Nets' downward spiral, was 9 of 12 and made all eight free throws.

NOTES: Prokhorov said he plans to meet with Carlesimo on Saturday. The Nets host Cleveland on Saturday night. ... Charlotte lost its last 23 games in last season's 7-59 season.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)