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Net loss: Brooklyn fires coach Avery Johnson

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Net loss: Brooklyn fires coach Avery Johnson

NEW YORK (AP) 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 Friday night with a home game against Charlotte. King said the Nets might 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.

Johnson was in the final year of a three-year, $12 million contract.

``It's a really disappointing day for me and my family. 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. Fair or unfair, it's time for a new voice and hopefully they'll get back on track.''

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.

``Our goal is to get to the conference finals,'' King said. ``We started out good and then we stumbled. We have to get back to playing winning basketball. It's the entire team. It's not like golf, where Tiger Woods can blame the caddie. It takes five guys on the court and they're all struggling. We have to figure out the ways to get back to winning. I don't know what happened. I'm not sure. But unfortunately, it did happen.''

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.

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.

King said the change was not made because Williams was unhappy, and he added the point guard himself has to play better.

Johnson also stood by Williams.

``From Day One, I always had a really good relationship with him. I don't think it's fair for anyone to hang this on Deron,'' Johnson said. ``We were just going through a bad streak, a bad spell. It's not time for me to be down on one player. That would be the easy way.''

Brooklyn started the season 11-4, winning five in a row to end November, when Johnson was Eastern Conference coach of the month. But he couldn't do anything to stop this slump, one the Nets never anticipated after a $350 million summer spending spree they believed would take them toward the top of their conference.

Johnson has been the Nets' coach for a little more than two seasons. He went 60-116 with the Nets, who moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn to start the season. Johnson coached the Dallas Mavericks to a spot in the NBA Finals in 2006.

``You don't always get a fair shake as a coach,'' Johnson said. ``I'm not the owner. If I were the owner, I wouldn't have fired myself today. But life is not always necessary fair. It's a business and in this business, the coach always gets blamed.''

This is the NBA's second coaching change this season following the dismissal of Mike Brown by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson arrived in New Jersey with a 194-70 record, a .735 winning percentage that was the highest in NBA history, but had little chance of success in his first two seasons while the Nets focused all their planning on the move to Brooklyn.

They 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.

Johnson didn't have a contract beyond this season but seemed to have the confidence of Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who before the season said he had faith in ``the Avery defense system.''

Some thought the Nets would finish as high as second in the East behind defending champion Miami, and the predictions seemed warranted when the Nets started quickly amid much fanfare. But all the good publicity faded in recent weeks once the losing started.

Williams, who has struggled this season, stirred the waters when he expressed his preference for the offense he ran under Jerry Sloan in Utah before a loss to the Jazz. Williams and Johnson, nicknamed ``Brooklyn's Backcourt'' and expected to be one of the best in the NBA, have shot poorly and rarely meshed.

The Nets were embarrassed near the end of their 93-76 loss to Boston, when fans exited early amid a chant of ``Let's go Celtics!''

``Nets fans deserved better,'' Yormark tweeted after the game. ``The entire organization needs to work harder to find a solution. We will get there.''

Not under Johnson, though.

The Nets should be able to entice a big-name coach with Prokhorov's billions and the chance to play in a major market at Barclays Center, the $1 billion arena that has drawn praise in the city and from visiting teams.

Carlesimo has previous 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.

``Right now, P.J. is our coach and I told him to coach the team like he'll be here for the next 10 years,'' King said.

---

AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford and AP freelancer Jim Hague contributed to this report.

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Former Terp Kevin Huerter makes NBA All-Rookie Second Team

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Former Terp Kevin Huerter makes NBA All-Rookie Second Team

With Dallas' Luka Doncic and Atlanta's Trae Young leading the way, the top five NBA draft picks from 2018 have been selected as the top five NBA rookies this season.

Doncic and Young were unanimous first-team selections for the NBA All-Rookie team, which was announced Tuesday. Phoenix's Deandre Ayton, Memphis' Jaren Jackson and Sacramento's Marvin Bagley III are also on the first team, which was chosen by 100 voters who cover the league.

Ayton, Bagley, Doncic, Jackson and Young were the first five picks in the last year's draft.

This marks the first time since the 1984 draft that the first five picks ended up as first-team all-rookie -- the selections that year being Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Charles Barkley. That was the entirety of the rookie team that season; the NBA didn't start doing first- and second-team selections until 1988-89.

The Hawks had two all-rookie selections this season, with Kevin Huerter on the second team to join Young. Also on the second team were a pair of Los Angeles Clippers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet, along with Cleveland's Collin Sexton and New York's Mitchell Robinson.

Rookie of the year will be announced at the NBA Awards show in Los Angeles on June 24. Doncic, Young and Ayton are the finalists.

Doncic and Young join other unanimous first-team all-rookie picks over the last decade: Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell (2018), Malcolm Brogdon and Dario Saric (2017), Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis (2016), Andrew Wiggins (2015), Michael Carter-Williams (2014), Damian Lillard (2013), Kyrie Irving (2012), Blake Griffin (2011) and Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry (2010).

Others receiving votes: Phoenix's Mikal Bridges, New York's Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier, Minnesota's Josh Okogie, Dallas' Jalen Brunson, Brooklyn's Rodions Kurucs, Chicago's Wendell Carter Jr., Charlotte's Mile Bridges, Detroit's Bruce Brown, Sacramento's Harry Giles III, Orlando's Mo Bamba and Indiana's Aaron Holiday.

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The history of Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier's beef, explained

The history of Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier's beef, explained

Ever since they were teammates in Chicago on the White Sox, Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier haven't gotten along. Here's a breakdown of Eaton and Frazier's beef, and how it boiled over during Monday's 5-3 loss to the New York Mets.

2016

Eaton and Frazier started their tenure with the White Sox on bad terms. The team was in the midst of a full rebuild, and Adam LaRoche retired after his son, Drake, was no longer allowed in the clubhouse.

With what appeared to be a vacuum in leadership, Eaton tried stepping up but it fell on deaf ears, particularly Frazier's.

Frazier, whose locker was next to Eaton's, called him out for being a phony according to 670 the Score. That spat led to a locker room fight.

Eaton's locker was then moved across the room from Frazier's, and the two were both eventually traded for picks and prospects.

2018

During the Nationals' visit to New York on August 26, Eaton slid hard into second base, injuring Phillip Evans on the play. The Mets challenged the play as a violation of the slide rule, but Major League Baseball's review determined the slide was allowed.

The Mets didn't take kindly to it. Pitcher Zack Wheeler drilled Eaton, and as he trotted to first base, Frazier chirped him on his way there and Eaton responded.

 “When he usually talks or chirps, usually he says it just loud enough that you can hear him but you can’t understand him," Eaton told MASN after the game. "So I’ll just leave it at that.”

2019

That brings us to Monday's 5-3 loss against the Mets. In the bottom of the third inning, as he was jogging to the dugout, Eaton got an earful from Frazier.

Eaton jawed back at Frazier, and other Nats players were ready to come to Eaton's defense before first base umpire Mike Estabrook impeded Eaton's progress toward Frazier.

After the game, Eaton unloaded. 

"I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point," Eaton explained. "So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

While Frazier kept quiet after the game, Tuesday he noted that Eaton should go "pay off your mortgage."

Before game time tonight, Eaton called the beef "high school stuff"

Will tonight's beef escalate during the game? Tune in at 7 p.m. to find out.

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