Nets hold off Cavs for 103-100 victory
NEW YORK (AP) -- Brook Lopez scored a season-high 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and the Nets improved to 2-0 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo by beating the Cavaliers, 103-100, on Saturday night.
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.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 15 points for the Nets, who fired coach Avery Johnson on Thursday and followed with two victories over losing teams. But now, they head off for major tests at San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
CJ Miles scored 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.
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.
Irving missed on a drive, then followed Williams' free throw with a 3-pointer that cut it to 101-100 with 5.9 seconds to play.
Johnson made two free throws and Irving got a good look from straightaway, staring at the basket in disbelief when the shot didn't stay down.
Carlesimo provided little details of the lunch meeting with Prokhorov, beyond that they ate at a Greek restaurant in Manhattan. Carlesimo said they talked about food and a little about the team over about two hours in his first extended conversation with Prokhorov. Asked what he learned about his boss, Carlesimo said: "I think if we would keep winning games, that would be good. He definitely prefers winning."
Carlesimo kept his sense of humor about the situation, responding to a question about Jeff Van Gundy's candidacy by saying: "I told Mikhail today in no uncertain terms I didn't want him talking to anybody." But he was serious when asked if the ability to make any list of coaching candidates meaningless by winning games, as Mike Woodson did last season with the Knicks, was available to him.
"I think it's available. I think we need a win and there's also coaches that are available and that's not something I have any control over," Carlesimo said, adding that the Nets played well Friday and would "just go at it like one day at a time and let's see what's going to happen."
Lopez had the first five points of a 13-0 run that turned a 15-13 game into a 28-13 Brooklyn lead. He shot 7 of 8 for his 15 points in just 9 minutes, then Miles scored 13 second-quarter points in pulling the Cavs to 61-53 at halftime.
Cleveland cut it to 79-74 after three.
Notes: Irving was averaging 37.5 points in New York this season. He had 34 in his first game here and a career-high 41 in a loss to the Knicks on Dec. 15. ... The Nets again played without forward Kris Humphries because of an abdominal strain. ... The loss left Cleveland's Byron Scott at 399 wins, remaining one shy of becoming the eighth active coach with 400.