Why have the Brooklyn Nets played so well since P.J. Carlesimo took over for Avery Johnson?
“I think we woke up,” point guard Deron Williams said after the Nets improved to 5-1 under their interim head coach with a 113-93 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night at Barclays Center. “I think it was an eye-opener when coach (Johnson) got let go, that we gotta play better. We knew we were capable of playing better; just for some reason we couldn’t get out of the rut we were in. I think that just kind of woke us up.”
Carleismo’s 5-1 start is the best for a Nets head coach since Lawrence Frank replaced Byron Scott and ripped off an NBA-record 13 consecutive wins back in 2003-04.
“I think we’re playing better than we were,” Williams said. “But I still don’t think we’re playing to our potential. I think we can play better, and that’s the thing that’s most promising.”
What’s the biggest difference?
“I think guys are definitely getting their confidence back, and we’re getting our confidence back as a team,” D-Will said.
Center Brook Lopez agreed.
“We’re getting our confidence back as a group,” he said. “We’re making the extra passes and we are trusting ourselves defensively.”
• Lopez has been thriving since Carlesimo took over. He scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in just 16 minutes against the Kings.
Coming into Saturday night’s game, he was averaging 24.8 points and nine rebounds under Carlesimo on 60 percent shooting.
Carlesimo said the key to Lopez’s resurgence is getting his 24-year-old center more pick-and-roll plays and getting him closer to the rim.
“It’s something we’ve been working on in practice,” Lopez said. “It’s been more effective.”
• Assistant coach Popeye Jones’ son, Seth, was a member of the United States Under-20 Olympic hockey team that captured the gold medal on Saturday morning; They beat defending champion Sweden, 3-1, in Russia.
Seth Jones, a complete defenseman with a ton of talent and potential, is expected to be a top pick at this year’s NHL draft.
Popeye Jones said he was very excited for his son. The Nets got back from D.C. at 1 a.m. Saturday, leaving Jones enough time to get in some sleep before the puck dropped at 8 a.m.