Popovich 'thrilled' P.J. got opportunity

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had mixed feelings about the coaching change in Brooklyn.

On one hand, his former point guard, Avery Johnson, had been fired, perhaps, at least looking at it as an outsider, unfairly. On the other, his former assistant, P.J. Carlesimo was getting another opportunity to be a head coach.

"I wasn’t thrilled to have a friend lose a job like Avery, and it was something at the time I thought was a little short-sighted or a bit impatient," Popovich said prior to Sunday’s Nets-Spurs game. "But it’s not my business, I’m not there and I didn’t know what the circumstances were. You just hate to see it. So it was odd to have one good friend get fired and another good friend take over.

"You make one call to one, then you call the next one and it’s a strange feeling. But I love them both and now I wish all the best for P.J. and hope it works out."

In Carlesimo’s third game as interim coach, the Spurs beat the Nets 104-73 on New Year’s Eve in San Antonio and outscored them 30-5 in the third quarter.

"We kicked (P.J.’s) ass. We just drilled him. And we loved it," Carlesimo joked. "We just made jokes at each other the whole game. He’s done a good job. They’ve reacted well to him, and seem to believe in what he’s doing. I don’t know what the hell he’s doing. I didn’t know what the he was doing when he was with the Spurs.

"But we sure had a good time together, and he was very important to our program. And we miss him all the time, and I’m thrilled that he got this opportunity."

Carlesimo is 15-7 since taking over for Johnson, who went 14-14.