The Nets played with energy under Carlesimo after forward Gerald Wallace had criticized the team following Wednesday's 108-93 loss in Milwaukee in Johnson's last game.
"To me, it's kind of frustrating and sad because that's the first time in my career that a coach's been let go in the middle of the season like that," Wallace said. "But I understand the business part of it. We move on and obviously regardless of who's sitting at the head of the chair, we know what we got to do as players."
Carlesimo, who had stints coaching Portland and Golden State, is perhaps best known for his infamous run-in with Latrell Sprewell when he was leading the Warriors. A terse exchange at a December 1997 practice resulted in Sprewell choking Carlesimo. It took several players and team officials to break up the attack, which an angry Sprewell renewed 15 minutes later.
Carlesimo last coached his own team when he was fired by the Oklahoma City Thunder after a 1-12 start to the 2008-09 season and said before the game he was a little more apprehensive than normal for his return to running his own club.
"Your head's spinning a little bit, you're trying to think of all the things that were second nature," Carlesimo said. "Hopefully, I haven't forgotten. I'm old, but hopefully I haven't forgotten."
It was quickly obvious he had nothing to worry about.
The Bobcats missed 13 of their first 16 shots, making it easy for the Nets. Brooklyn scored nine straight in the middle of the first quarter to open a 12-point lead, extended it to 18 later in the period, and were ahead 33-15 headed to the second.
"It's tough. We can't put ourselves in that kind of position," Bobcats guard Kemba Walker said. "We don't have a lot of depth on our team to come back against great teams, but we do every once in a while, but we can't do that all the time. We dig ourselves in holes we can't get out of."
Williams, who missed Wednesday's game with a bruised right wrist and came into the game shooting under 40 percent for the season, was 7 of 14 from the field. Williams, who said recently that he preferred his old offense in Utah to Johnson's, acknowledged his confidence was down as he struggled to play the style that best suited the Nets.
"We came out with a lot more energy," Williams said. "I think we had to. I think our backs are against the wall right now."
Lopez, the starting center whose seven-game absence with a foot injury started the Nets' downward spiral, was 9 of 12 and made all eight free throws. He said it's easy for the Nets to offer Carlesimo the support Prokhorov wants.
"He helped us focus tonight," Lopez said. "He was there for us and you know we support him and he supports us."
AP freelance writer Adriano Torres in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this report.