Brooklyn, NY – When the Brooklyn Nets fired Avery Johnson on Dec. 27, many wondered which big name would be hired as the team's next head coach.
It looks like they may already have found their man in interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
Since taking over as head coach, Carlesimo has guided the Nets to a 9-1 record, including a 113-106 win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Deron Williams finished with 21 points and seven assists, Brook Lopez tallied 22 to go with nine boards and Joe Johnson added 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting for Brooklyn, which has won a season-high seven straight games.
"The offense was working good tonight," Williams said. "We had a lot of good things happening. A lot of ball movement and extra passes, we had a good flow to the game."
Kyle Lowry scored 21 points off the bench despite leaving in the second quarter with a left ankle sprain and playing just under 15 minutes, and Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon chipped in with 15 points apiece for the Raptors, who have dropped their last three contests with Brooklyn.
"They're just a good team. We let them get out and make some shots and get in transition," Lowry said. "They have two potential All-Stars in Joe (Johnson) and Williams, they played to their potential tonight."
The teams traded blows over the first quarter until Landry Field's reverse slam put the Raptors up 15-10 with just under five minutes left. The Nets used a 9-4 run to tie the game at 19-19 and the teams traded baskets until Andray Blatche tipped in Kris Humphries' miss to give Brooklyn a 27-25 lead, but Alan Anderson went 2-for-3 from the line at the end of the frame to tie it up at 27-27.
The Nets fell behind 40-30 near the midway point of the second period, but an 18-8 push tied the game at 48-48 with 1 1/2 minutes to go. Brooklyn outscored the Raptors, 6-2, the rest of the way to take a 54-50 lead into the break.
A Reggie Evans layup put the Nets ahead 62-59, but Brooklyn used a 15-9 surge to take a 77-68 lead with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third and the Nets led 83-76 entering the final frame.
Brooklyn's lead swelled to as many as 15 in the fourth, but a 15-6 Raptors' burst made it 109-103 with 47.8 seconds to go. Lowry's triple nearly 30 seconds later pulled Toronto within 111-106, but Williams sank a pair of free throws with 13.7 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
The Nets have won five straight at home and improved to 15-7 at Barclays Center this season ... Brooklyn is 15-0 against teams with a record below .500 ... The Nets were without starting forward Gerald Wallace, who missed his second straight game with a rib injury ... The Raptors have dropped seven of their last 10 overall against the Nets ... Toronto had 14 turnovers leading to 24 points for Brooklyn.