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Carlesimo, Nets face tall task in San Antonio

8:42 AM, Dec 31, 2012   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - P.J. Carlesimo has had it easy in regards to the schedule for his first two games as interim head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Things get more difficult for his club on Monday night as the Nets hit the road to battle the streaking San Antonio Spurs.

Brooklyn fired head coach Avery Johnson on Thursday with the club in the midst of a 3-10 slide and fading in the Atlantic Division standings. Carlesimo was at the helm for Friday's 97-81 home victory over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats and then welcomed the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers to town the following night.

Saturday's encounter was a much tighter contest, but the Nets survived with a 103-100 win thanks in part to a season-high 35 points and 11 rebounds by Brook Lopez.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson both had 15 points, with Williams adding seven assists and Johnson hitting two free throws for a three-point edge with 5.4 seconds to play. Cleveland's Kyrie Irving then missed his 3-point attempt at the other end.

"We're happy to be on the winning track. It has been an emotional roller coaster," Williams said. "Hopefully that stuff is behind us. We just have to keep playing and keep getting better."

Having a healthy Lopez has helped. The 7-footer missed seven straight games from Nov. 30-Dec. 12 due to a foot injury, but has averaged 27.3 points and 10.7 rebounds over his last three games while shooting 62 percent from the floor in that span.

Brooklyn will need all hands on deck as it kicks off a three-game road trip with tough matchups in San Antonio and Oklahoma City before wrapping at Washington on Friday.

The Spurs bring a season high-tying five-game winning streak into this encounter and bested the Dallas Mavericks 111-86 on Sunday night.

Tony Parker led San Antonio with 21 points with nine assists and five boards, while Manu Ginobili added 20 points, five assists and five rebounds.

"We shot the ball well," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They had a tough night shooting, and obviously that makes a big difference."

Tim Duncan had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Spurs snapped a four-game slide on the road.

San Antonio, though, is 12-2 at home this season.

Guard Gary Neal did not make the trip on Sunday and remains day-to-day with a strained right calf.

The Spurs won their lone meeting with the Nets a season ago 103-89 in New Jersey. It was their third straight victory in this series and 17th in the past 18 encounters.

The Nets franchise hasn't won in San Antonio since Jan. 22, 2002, dropping nine straight as the guest.

Carlesimo was an assistant under Popovich for five seasons from 2002-07, winning three NBA titles in that span.

The Sports Network

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