Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov's message for interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo was simple.
"Just win a championship."
Though Prokhorov's statement came with a smile, Carlesimo took a step in the right direction in his debut. He'll look to guide the Nets to a second victory in a row on Saturday in matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Carlesimo was named Brooklyn's interim head coach after Avery Johnson was relieved of his duties on Thursday. Johnson won Eastern Conference Coach of the Month in November following an 11-4 start, but the Nets followed that with a 3-10 skid.
"I think we have very talented players, but they are capable of much more than we have seen recently. To me, this is totally unacceptable. So I respect Avery and really I wish him well, but sometimes the chemistry just isn't right," Prokhorov said before Friday's 97-81 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Brook Lopez, who missed seven games in a row from Nov. 30-Dec. 12 due to a foot injury, had 26 points and 11 rebounds in Friday's win, while Deron Williams ended with 19 points for a Nets club that won for just the second time in seven games.
"It's a tough situation, I think, for everybody. It's a situation none of us want to be in," Williams said about the coaching change.
Brooklyn put itself in a good position on Friday, using a 24-11 run in the first quarter to take a 33-15 edge into the second.
The Nets take aim at just their second winning streak of the month as they battle a Cavaliers squad that had its own two-game run end on Friday night.
Cleveland had posted back-to-back wins for the first time all season, but failed to make it three in a row thanks to a 102-94 setback to the Atlanta Hawks.
The young Cavs led by five going into the fourth quarter, but were outscored 27-14 in the frame and didn't score over the game's final 2:53.
"They did a much better job of rebounding, getting people in position and getting the shots they wanted," said Cleveland head coach Byron Scott. "A lot of that was their experience and it showed."
Kyrie Irving had a game-high 28 points along with six rebounds and five assists for the Cavaliers, while Dion Waiters donated 18 points and six rebounds in the loss.
Already without big man Anderson Varejao for a fifth straight game due to a right knee contusion, guard Daniel Gibson suffered a concussion in the second quarter and did not return. Both players have already been ruled our for this game.
The Cavs lost a 114-101 decision in their first trip to Brooklyn on Nov. 13 as Williams paced the Nets with 26 points and 10 assists.
Joe Johnson scored nine of his 25 points for the Nets in the second quarter, which Brooklyn outscored Cleveland 35-12.
Varejao had 35 points with 18 boards, while Irving netted 34 points with eight assists as the Cavaliers lost to the Nets for the sixth time in the last eight meetings.
The Sports Network