Brooklyn Nets Fire Coach Avery Johnson

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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 than 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 with Friday's home game against Charlotte. King said the Nets may reach out to 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 the decision to dismiss Johnson was made by ownership after a phone discussion Thursday morning. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov had expressed faith in Johnson before the season.

''With the direction we were going we felt we had to make a change,'' King said.

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, probably the high point of Johnson's tenure, the Nets went 5-10 and frustrations have been mounting.

The Nets were embarrassed by Boston on national TV on Christmas, then were routed by Milwaukee 108-93 on Wednesday night for their fifth loss in six games.

''For whatever reason we're just not clicking,'' King said.

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SOURCE: The Associated Press
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