COACH OF THE MONTH in November, out of a job by New Year's.
The Brooklyn Nets have elevated expectations this season, and a .500 record wasn't good enough. Coach Avery Johnson was fired Thursday, his team having lost 10 of 13 games after a strong start to its first season in Brooklyn.
"We don't have the same fire now that we did when we were 11-4," general manager Billy King said at a news conference in East Rutherford, N.J. "I tried to talk to Avery about it, and we just can't figure it out. The same pattern kept on happening."
Assistant P.J. Carlesimo will coach the Nets on an interim basis, starting Friday night at home against Charlotte. King said the Nets might contact other candidates, but for now the job was Carlesimo's. The GM wouldn't comment on a report that the team planned to get in touch with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
King said ownership decided to fire Johnson after a phone discussion Thursday morning. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov had expressed faith in Johnson before the season.
Johnson was in the final year of a 3-year, $12 million contract.
"It's my wife's birthday. It's not a great birthday gift," Johnson said. "I didn't see this coming. But this is ownership's decision. It's part of the business."
The Nets have fallen well behind the first-place New York Knicks, the team they so badly want to compete with in their new home. But after beating the Knicks in their first meeting Nov. 26, the Nets went 5-10 and frustrations have been mounting.
The Nets were embarrassed by Boston, 93-76, on Christmas, then routed by Milwaukee, 108-93, on Wednesday for their fifth loss in six games.
Star guard Deron Williams recently complained about Johnson's offense, and Nets CEO Brett Yormark took to Twitter after the loss to Celtics to voice his displeasure with the performance.
Johnson arrived in New Jersey with a 194-70 record, a .735 winning percentage that was the highest in NBA history.
The Nets looked to make a splash this summer when they re-signed Williams and fellow starters Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, traded for Atlanta All-Star Joe Johnson, and added veteran depth with players such as Reggie Evans, C.J. Watson and Andray Blatche.
Carlesimo has NBA head-coaching experience in Portland, Golden State and Seattle/Oklahoma City. He has a career coaching record of 204-296 in the regular season and 3-9 in the playoffs.
Knicks point guard Raymond Felton has returned to New York, where a decision will be made about how to treat his broken right pinkie, suffered during the loss to the Lakers on Christmas.
* Heat guard Dwyane Wade was suspended one game without pay by the NBA for flailing his leg and making contact with the groin of the Bobcats' Ramon Sessions during a game Wednesday.
* Lakers center Dwight Howard was fined $35,000 by the NBA for a flagrant foul against the Nuggets' Kenneth Faried during a game Wednesday.