Nets hold off Cavs, move to 2-0 under Carlesimo

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 29, 2012 at 10:50 pm •  Published: December 29, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Two victories and now two huge tests coming up for the Brooklyn Nets.

They sure look more ready under P.J. Carlesimo than in their final days under Avery Johnson.

Brook Lopez scored a season-high 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and the Nets improved to 2-0 under their interim coach by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-100 on Saturday night.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 15 points for the Nets, who fired Johnson on Thursday during a 3-10 skid and followed with two victories over losing teams. Now, they head off for major challenges at San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

"This can start something, so for us to get these two wins, we've got a little confidence going on the road, and we'll ride this confidence into San Antonio and try to get us another win," Johnson said.

Lopez followed his 26-point, 11-rebound performance in a victory Friday over Charlotte by shooting 13 of 20 from the field, making a number of timely baskets in the fourth quarter that the Nets ultimately needed to hold on.

CJ Miles scored a season-high 33 points and made eight 3-pointers for the Cavs, but Kyrie Irving capped a miserable shooting night when his tying 3-point attempt went in and out. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Tristan Thompson added 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who played without center Anderson Varejao because of a knee injury. He had a career-high 35 points and 18 rebounds in the previous meeting in Brooklyn and perhaps could have slowed Lopez, who fouled out rookie Tyler Zeller.

Carlesimo is trying to prove that if the Nets can't lure top priority Phil Jackson out of retirement, they should keep him. It would help if the Nets can win in San Antonio, where he was an assistant to Gregg Popovich, or Oklahoma City, where he held his last head coaching job.

"I always liked both places, to be honest with you," Carlesimo joked about the difficulty of the trip.

The Nets, blown out in their final two games under Johnson, clearly take a better mindset onto the road.

"They played more good minutes of this last 96 and we won two games, so there's no question they're in a better place," Carlesimo said.

Carlesimo had a chance to spend time with owner Mikhail Prokhorov and other team officials Saturday during a lunch meeting. Then he picked up another victory, with Prokhorov watching from his box above midcourt and part-owner Jay-Z from his courtside seat right next to the Nets' bench.

The Nets got off to another strong start, as they did in Friday's 97-81 rout of Charlotte, but couldn't sustain it this time.

After their 15-point lead was cut to one early in the fourth quarter, the Nets seemed to have regained control when they went ahead 92-81 with 7:07 remaining. But Miles nailed two 3-pointers around a pair of free throws, cutting it to five, and the Cavs eventually got it down to 100-97 on Thompson's follow shot with 47 seconds to go.