OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — P.J. Carlesimo's first big motivational message as the interim coach of the Brooklyn Nets earned him an elusive win in Oklahoma City, and perhaps the kind of jolt his team needs to get out of a monthlong funk.
Joe Johnson scored a season-high 33 points, Deron Williams added 19 points and 13 assists, and the Nets snapped Oklahoma City's 12-game home winning streak by beating the Thunder 110-93 Wednesday night in a game featuring the first ejection of Kevin Durant's career.
Johnson said Carlesimo "jumped on us" after a 31-point thumping at San Antonio two nights earlier, stressing the importance of ball movement on offense and helping each other out on defense.
"To be honest, it helped," Johnson said. "It translated into the game because we were in a spot defensively that we hadn't been in in a while. We was talking, communicating, the ball was moving great, guys were getting wide-open shots and it just kind of played into our hands."
The Nets built a 23-point lead late in the second quarter, then allowed Oklahoma City to tie it at 85 before ripping off a 23-8 run to seize control right back. Durant was ejected near the end of the surge, arguing with Danny Crawford after the referee had already issued a technical foul against Kendrick Perkins.
"I just thought it was a bad call. You get frustrated throughout a game, you show emotion. That's how you can tell you love it," said Durant, who scored 27 points.
The three-time scoring champion had never before been ejected in his six NBA seasons but got tossed after Brooklyn rallied largely from the foul line. The Nets made 11 free throws in a span of just over 5 minutes, pulling away after Oklahoma City had finally fought all the way back.
But Durant said it wasn't a disparity in foul calls or any cumulative complaint about the officiating that sent him to the showers early.
"I said, 'It's a bad call,'" he said. "They've got a quick trigger now."
"I think I'm allowed to be frustrated, especially in this league. With the ups and downs, the players are allowed to be frustrated," Durant added. "It is what it is, move on from it."
Brook Lopez added 25 points as Brooklyn ended a seven-game losing streak in the series and got Carlesimo a victory against the team that fired him back in 2008. He'd only had one win in Oklahoma City during his abbreviated tenure in charge of the Thunder, getting fired after a 1-12 start after the team's summer relocation from Seattle.
He started his interim stint with the Nets by notching wins against Charlotte and Cleveland before the 104-73 blowout loss at San Antonio.
"For whatever reason, we didn't have quite the same kind of energy in San Antonio, but we learned from it. ... Tonight was tremendous energy," Carlesimo said.
Johnson gave him credit for the turnaround, but he deflected it to Gerald Wallace, who was back in the starting lineup after sitting out Monday's game with a bruised left knee.
"Gerald Wallace is a monster. You want to talk about something that wasn't in San Antonio? Gerald Wallace, because Gerald Wallace is kind of the heart, the way he plays," Carlesimo said. "So, it's not easy for us to play without Gerald Wallace."