With Carlesimo at helm, Nets beat Bobcats

Brook Lopez scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets opened P.J. Carlesimo's tenure as head coach with a 97-81 NBA victory over the struggling Charlotte Bobcats.

The Nets handed the Bobcats a 17th straight defeat, scoring the first five points of the game and never relinquishing the lead.

The Bobcats weren't able to mount a challenge in the second half, trailing by more than 20 points in the third quarter and getting no closer than 12 in the final period.

The match-up allowed Carlesimo to ease into his new role a day after Avery Johnson was sacked as coach.

Johnson had earned Eastern Conference coach of the month honors for November, but a 3-10 slump in December spelled the end for him in Brooklyn.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said at halftime on Friday that he'd decided some time before Thursday's announcement to cut ties with Johnson, but discussed the move with general manager Billy King.

"I made the final decision like last week," the Russian billionaire said. "I spoke with Billy King. We had a discussion and then it was my decision."

Carlesimo, an assistant under Johnson, had yet to guide the Nets through one game in his new role as interim head coach before reports surfaced that the Nets were interested in hiring retired coaching great Phil Jackson, or perhaps former Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, currently working as a television commentator.

For now, Prokhorov said, it was important to support Carlesimo and "stop any kind of rumors and speculation".

Deron Williams added 19 points and Joe Johnson scored 16 for the Nets, who were without forward Kris Humphries who is nursing an abdominal muscle injury.

Hakim Warrick led Charlotte with 13 points. Ramon Sessions scored 12 and Ben Gordon added 10 for the Bobcats, who were held to 38.4 percent shooting.

Charlotte haven't won a game since a double-overtime victory over the lowly Washington Wizards on November 24.

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