Jared Newman, CineSport— A day after firing Avery Johnson and replacing him with P.J. Carlesimo, the Brooklyn Nets beat the Charlotte Bobcats, 97-81. Deron Williams, who missed Wednesday with a wrist injury, scored 19.
Brooklyn was able to blow out Charlotte, but that doesn’t mean much considering that the Bobcats were on a 16-game losing streak before the two teams faced off on Friday night.
The Nets still have a long way to go to get back on track after falling from 11-4 to 14-14 under Johnson, and what they need most right now is for their star point guard to regain his elite form.
Deron Williams thrust himself into the spotlight by criticizing Johnson’s offense for using “more one-one-one and “isos” than he likes, but Williams’ play has been so poor this season that Avery Johnson cannot take all of the blame for his struggles.
Williams has regressed to the point where he is shooting a career-low 39.8 percent from the field and has been scoring just 16.6 points a game, which is his lowest output since his second season in the NBA back in 2006-07.
His assists are also down, even though he supposedly has better offensive weapons around him this season than he ever has in his career.
The issue is that even if Williams could improve his numbers drastically with an offense that doesn’t rely on isolation, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez would then have to adjust because they are used to playing one-on-one basketball.
Perhaps there is an offensive system that can use the skills of Williams, Johnson and Lopez to their fullest potential, but it will be up to P.J. Carlesimo or whoever becomes the next Nets coach to figure out what that system is.
The good news for Brooklyn is that the season is young, so they have plenty of time to experiment with different lineups and offensive sets before the postseason arrives.
Ultimately though, you have to wonder how this Nets team would be doing if Dwight Howard was on the roster.
In an effort to gain quick relevance, Mikhail Prokhorov wanted Billy King to put together a roster over the summer that would have enough star power to make the playoffs even if it meant that the team would not be good enough to contend for a championship.
Trading for Dwight Howard would have satisfied both Prokhorov and Brooklyn fans by making the Nets a legitimate threat to the Miami Heat.
Perhaps the star center would not have saved Avery Johnson’s job, but there is no question that the Nets would be much more dangerous with Howard on their team than with Brook Lopez.
Regardless, Brooklyn will establish some form of chemistry over the next few months and they will qualify for the playoffs in April. It seems rather unlikely that they’ll go any farther than the second round, but that will depend mostly on Deron Williams, who is running out of excuses for his regression.
Once upon a time, Williams had us wondering if he was as good as Chris Paul and if he could be considered the best point guard in the NBA. Perhaps that time will come again, but until then no one should fear the Nets as anything more than a contender for a #4 or #5 seed in the East.
A day after the Nets fired head coach Avery Johnson, PJ Carlesimo made his Brooklyn coaching debut against the woeful Bobcats, losers of 16 straight. Deron Williams scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half as Brooklyn was in control all night. Brook Lopez slammed in a game-high 26 points and grabbed 11 boards, and later he would supply the dagger. With the 97-81 victory, the Nets handed the Bobcats their 17th straight loss.