Wizards

Carlesimo has Prokhorov's trust and a win in debut

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Carlesimo has Prokhorov's trust and a win in debut

NEW YORK (AP) Skiing in Canada is postponed. Mikhail Prokhorov's new agenda calls for lunch with his basketball coach.

Prokhorov can always reschedule his vacation. Fixing his team couldn't wait.

So the Brooklyn Nets owner fired Avery Johnson, made P.J. Carlesimo the team's interim coach, and put aside pleasure for business.

Prokhorov flew to New York and watched the Nets hand the Charlotte Bobcats their 17th straight loss, 97-81 on Friday. He and Carlesimo will meet Saturday for lunch, where the Russian billionaire will likely remind Carlesimo of his high - perhaps unrealistic - goals for the Nets.

Carlesimo, uncomfortable with how he got the job, isn't worried about what it will take to keep it.

``Honestly, am I anxious to hear what he's got to say? Of course I do. But we've just got to go out and do the best job we can and see whatever happens,'' Carlesimo said. ``I certainly don't want to lobby for it or anything like that.''

He won't need to if the Nets keep performing like they did Friday.

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 against the hapless Bobcats.

Brook Lopez had 26 points and 11 rebounds, 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.

``I felt we're a good team all year and we just hit a rough patch,'' said Williams, who struggled under Johnson. ``We've got to fight our way out of it, so we made a step in the right direction tonight and we just keep going.''

Prokhorov cut short heli-skiing in British Columbia to travel to New York. He said he decided to fire Johnson last week but will be patient with Carlesimo. Even with big names such as Phil Jackson potentially available and Prokhorov vowing to spend whatever it takes to build a championship team, he said repeatedly that Carlesimo was the head coach.

Prokhorov did say that if the Nets do look for a new coach, he would be personally involved. He wouldn't discuss anyone by name, even joking he had never heard of Jackson, the 11-time champion coach whom ESPN.com reported was the Nets' top target.

``Now P.J. is the head coach and if it becomes necessary, you know who the usual suspects are,'' Prokhorov told reporters at halftime.

The Nets had been blown out of their previous two games and Prokhorov said the Nets were lacking team spirit.

Still, deciding Johnson would be fired last week means Prokhorov had made up his mind even before the lackluster Christmas performance at home against Boston that preceded a rout Wednesday in Milwaukee.

``I think we have very talented players, but they are capable of much more than what we have seen in the recent weeks,'' Prokhorov said. ``I respect Avery and really I wish him well, but sometimes chemistry just isn't right. It happens.

``I think the main question is why we were unable to bounce back and to play like champions,'' he added.

Prokhorov added around $300 million in payroll this summer and has set the expectations high, saying he believes the Nets can reach the Eastern Conference finals. Though it's believed he wouldn't back away from paying top dollar for a coach, he left open the possibility that he may already have the guy he wants.

``P.J. is the head coach and just I think we have a lot of trust in him and really I want him to lead the team,'' Prokhorov said.

The Nets played with energy under Carlesimo after forward Gerald Wallace had criticized the team following Wednesday's 108-93 loss in Milwaukee in Johnson's last game.

``To me, it's kind of frustrating and sad because that's the first time in my career that a coach's been let go in the middle of the season like that,'' Wallace said. ``But I understand the business part of it. We move on and obviously regardless of who's sitting at the head of the chair, we know what we got to do as players.''

Carlesimo, who had stints coaching Portland and Golden State, is perhaps best known for his infamous run-in with Latrell Sprewell when he was leading the Warriors. A terse exchange at a December 1997 practice resulted in Sprewell choking Carlesimo. It took several players and team officials to break up the attack, which an angry Sprewell renewed 15 minutes later.

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 and 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.

``It's tough. We can't put ourselves in that kind of position,'' Bobcats guard Kemba Walker said. ``We don't have a lot of depth on our team to come back against great teams, but we do every once in a while, but we can't do that all the time. We dig ourselves in holes we can't get out of.''

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. Williams, who said recently that he preferred his old offense in Utah to Johnson's, acknowledged his confidence was down as he struggled to play the style that best suited the Nets.

``We came out with a lot more energy,'' Williams said. ``I think we had to. I think our backs are against the wall right now.''

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. He said it's easy for the Nets to offer Carlesimo the support Prokhorov wants.

``He helped us focus tonight,'' Lopez said. ``He was there for us and you know we support him and he supports us.''

---

AP freelance writer Adriano Torres in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this report.

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Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Thursday’s 119-113 victory over the 76ers was by far the best victory the Wizards have had this season.

Davis Bertans was hot shooting 7-for-10 from three. He even set a career high of 25 points in 27 minutes.  

Miami, on the hand struggled Wednesday night and fell short to Boston 112-93. 

Who will get the victory Friday ngiht? Tune in to find out. 

WIZARDS at HEAT HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards at Heat, Game 21

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

When: Friday, December 6, at 8:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards at Heat will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at Heat on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at HEAT TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

7:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Heat (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

11:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS at HEAT INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain), C.J. Miles (OUT, Wrist), Thomas Bryant (OUT, foot), Isaiah Thomas (OUT, Calf)

Heat: Justise Winslow (OUT, Back), Goran Dragic (OUT, Groin), KZ Okpala (OUT, Achilles), Udonis Haslem (OUT, Illness)

WIZARDS at HEAT PLAYERS TO WATCH

Davis Bertans, PF, (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 app, ): Bertans went off in the first half against the 76ers shooting 6-for-6 from deep to get 22 points going into halftime. Bertans finished Thursday nights game with a season high of 25 points, one rebound, one steal and seven 3 pointers within 37 minutes.

Ish Smith, G, Wizards (8 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.9 apg): With IT out Ish Smith stepped up to the plate dishing out a season high of eight assists with 19 points and one rebound in 34 minutes in Thursday nights win over the 76ers. Smith is averaging

Jimmy Butler, G, Wizards (20.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 6.5 apg): Jimmy Butler was on fire in Miami’s 112-93 loss to Celtics on Wednesday. Butler made 12-of-18 from the field and set a season high of 37 points.

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Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards entered this season with the understanding they probably wouldn't make the playoffs. They wanted to play hard and be a team capable of pulling off upsets on nights their effort and scrappy play caught opponents off guard.

They wanted to have games like they had on Thursday night. For the first time this season, the Wizards jumped all over a very good team and held on for a victory.

The Wizards took out the Sixers 119-113 for what is so far their signature win of the season. Philly is one of the best teams in the East at 15-7 and it was mostly healthy, unlike the Wizards.

Washington snapped a three-game skid as it now flies to Miami for battle with the Heat, who may be the surprise team of the NBA so far this season with a 15-6 record.

2. Though it's not showing in the standings, the Wizards did a nice job in the offseason in flipping their roster and creating long-term financial flexibility. Their most impressive move may have been trading for Davis Bertans.

Bertans was essentially stolen from the San Antonio Spurs for Aaron White, who was likely to never play for the Wizards. And all Bertans has done is thrive in an expanded role with the green light to shoot as often as he wants.

Bertans was lights-out on Thursday with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He set a career high with seven threes, going 7-for-13 from the perimeter. Bertans had 20 points and was 6-for-6 from three in the first half, tying his previous career high for makes.

As I've mentioned before, Bertans is going to be a commodity come the trade deadline and that is going to force a tough decision for the Wizards, whether to trade him or keep him and try to work out an extension in the offseason. If they are offered a first-round pick, it will be hard to pass up.

But there is an argument either way to hold on to him because he is such a good shooter. Just imagine how well he would fit with John Wall.

3. Rookie Rui Hachimura also had a huge game in what was his first career meeting with the Sixers. He popped off for 15 points in the second quarter and ended up with 27 points and six boards.

Hachimura did all of this while dealing with Al Horford and Joel Embiid down low and guarding those guys on the other end. He also spent some time checking Tobias Harris, so there was a lot on his plate.

Hachimura got many of his points with his bread-and-butter midrange game. He made one three and found trouble getting around Embiid at the rim. 

Hachimura took what the defense gave him and it worked. There were several occasions where defenders just let him take long twos and he made them.

Head coach Scott Brooks was just talking pregame about why the Wizards are okay with him living in the midrange, if that's what he is most comfortable with at this point. Good timing with those comments.

Hachimura, by the way, is averaging 22 points over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (37-for-68).

4. The Wizards shared some good news on the injury front before the game as both of their backup centers returned. Moe Wagner, who was nursing a left ankle injury, came back after missing two games. And Ian Mahinmi made his season debut after missing two-plus months with an Achilles strain.

Wagner was put in the starting lineup due to Thomas Bryant's absence and, though he did not have his usual scoring numbers, he did what he could to bother Embiid and give the Wizards energy. Wagner finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

Mahinmi played surprisingly well, all things considered. He had some bad moments, some due to rust. Be he did a solid job guarding Embiid, which is no easy task. The Wizards also helped him out with double teams.

The best part of Mahinmi's night, though, was right when he checked in. He has developed a reputation for getting in foul trouble and, sure enough, he got one on his very first play.

5. Though the Wizards got two players back from injury on Thursday, they also lost two. Jordan McRae will be out a few weeks after having a second surgery on his right ring finger. And, in a bigger surprise, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas was a late scratch with a left calf strain.

The Thomas one is a newly disclosed injury and at this point it's unclear if he will miss any more time. But it was enough for him to sit after he had played in 17 straight.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: