"When we play the way we're capable of playing ... we've beaten a couple of the better teams in the league, even on the road, so we just got to play," Carlesimo said. "We're playing in our place, which is a huge plus for us."
The Nets rebounded from their first two-game losing streak under Carlesimo with a 97-77 victory over Orlando on Monday. Yet Carlesimo was still dwelling Tuesday on the losses last week at Memphis and Houston that saddled them with a 2-2 mark on a road trip which began with an impressive victory over the Knicks.
"After the steps we took back last week, we have to show that we can be — not that we can be good, we've established that — but that we can be good consistently and that we can be good against the better teams," Carlesimo said.
Carlesimo was looking beyond the three-game stretch all the way to the All-Star game. The Nets have another difficult patch leading into the Feb. 14-17 break, facing San Antonio, Indiana and Denver over a four-night stretch.
They seem far more prepared, and a certainly more stable now than in the final days under Johnson, when they fell apart in December after he had led them to 11 wins and Eastern Conference coach of the month honors in November.
"I think we're starting to really finally find out who we are as a team and who we are as individuals and what we can do to help this team win ballgames," Johnson said.
Carlesimo still needs to see more, and this would be a nice time.
"Am I happy where we're at? Yes, but very, very sure that we've got a long way to go," he said. "I like where we are, relative to where we were, but we're not anywhere where we need to be."