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Brooklyn Nets oust Avery Johnson after losing 10 of 13 games

The coach, who had guided his team to an 11-4 start and won conference coach of the month honors, also had alienated players Deron Williams and Kris Humphries.

December 29, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • The Nets lost 10 of 13 games under Avery Johnson after an 11-4 start to the season.
The Nets lost 10 of 13 games under Avery Johnson after an 11-4 start to the… (Jeff Zelevansky / Getty…)

No-win situation for Johnson

The Lakers fired Mike Brown after opening the season 1-4.

The Brooklyn Nets ousted Avery Johnson after winning only three of their last 13 games under him.

Apparently, it's how you start or finish that determines whether you keep your job as an NBA coach.

Johnson was out Thursday after an epic slide in which the Nets plummeted from Finals candidates to fringe playoff contenders.

The decision came from Russia with loathing, owner Mikhail Prokhorov dismissing the same coach who had guided his team to an 11-4 start while earning Eastern Conference coach of the month honors.

Johnson had lost more than games. He had also gone astray in the locker room, alienating Deron Williams and Kris Humphries.

Williams, who was famously instrumental in legendary Coach Jerry Sloan's departure from Utah, publicly criticized Johnson's offense earlier this month and then sat out a loss to Milwaukee because of a wrist injury he had previously shrugged off. Humphries went on the inactive list with a previously undisclosed abdominal injury only after Johnson had removed him from the starting lineup.

Assistant P.J. Carlesimo was promoted to interim coach, inheriting the biggest mess he had confronted since Latrell Sprewell.

"This is not about the fair game," Johnson said in his farewell news conference. "A lot of times it's about the blame game."

Cousins, third removed

DeMarcus Cousins seems to have the closest thing to immunity among NBA malcontents.

Sacramento's leading scorer, rebounder and troublemaker keeps acting out and quickly finding his way back into the lineup.

He was back after a paltry two-game suspension for angrily confronting San Antonio's Sean Elliott over critical remarks the broadcaster made.

He sat out only one game after kicking Dallas' O.J. Mayo in the groin.

His latest transgression, a halftime confrontation with Kings Coach Keith Smart that was so nasty Smart ordered Cousins to stay in the locker room for the rest of a loss to the Clippers, earned him an "indefinite" suspension … that caused him to miss two games. Cousins was back in the starting lineup Friday for the Kings' victory over New York.

At least Sacramento finally found the courage to discipline Cousins; his first two suspensions were ordered by the NBA.

"You can't tax yourself focusing on one player because you'll get burned out," Smart said. "You've got other guys you've got to be responsible for also."

A Web of activity

Chris Paul is winning at just about everything these days.

The Clippers star who plays for the team with the best record in the NBA — no, that's not a typo — also has the largest digital footprint among the league's point guards, according to Internet search engine

The runners-up were Chicago's Derrick Rose, the Lakers' Steve Nash and San Antonio's Tony Parker.

In compiling its rankings, considered players' blogging; participation in social networks; number of friends, followers or readers; amount of Web content created; and prominence in the news.

Success certainly has its privileges.

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