The P.J. Carlesimo era begins Friday night for the Brooklyn Nets when they welcome the struggling Charlotte Bobcats to the Barclays Center.
The Nets relieved Avery Johnson of head-coaching duties on Thursday afternoon and replaced him on an interim basis with his top assistant, Carlesimo.
The Johnson-led Nets were 3-10 in the month of December after an 11-4 mark in November earned Johnson the Coach of the Month honors in the Eastern Conference.
But the team's struggles and possible friction with star guard Deron Williams led to Johnson's ouster. The reigns have been handed to Carlesimo, who has been a head coach three times in the NBA.
"P.J. will be the interim coach at this time," said general manager Billy King at Thursday's press conference. "Will we look other places? We may, but at this time PJ's our interim head coach. He'll be coaching tomorrow. The remaining staff will stay with him and we'll go forward from there."
The Nets really fell hard, starting with a 17-point loss Christmas Day, at home, to the Boston Celtics. The next night, they fell by 15 on the road in Milwaukee.
The next day, their coach was fired.
All has not been terrible in Brooklyn, especially on the defensive end. The Nets rank sixth in opponents' scoring and have not allowed an opponent to shoot over 50 percent from the field in their last 10 games.
Williams (bruised right wrist) and Kris Humphries (sore abdominal muscle) are both questionable for Friday night's game.
If the Nets have struggled in December, the Bobcats are in a whole other category. Charlotte has lost 16 straight and hasn't won since a double- overtime thriller over the Washington Wizards on Nov. 24.
Their most recent setback came Wednesday against the defending champion Miami Heat. Charlotte fell 105-92 and Miami built a 17-point lead at the half. The Bobcats stormed out in the third quarter, won that by 10, but eventually fell by a hefty margin.
"I told my guys they will only give you one chance, and we reeled them back in and then just kind of hung around," said Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap of the team's second-half performance. "If you look at our seven wins, that's how we've won. We haven't just whipped anybody, we've barely won in all of those seven games. This game had that same kind of feel to it."
Kemba Walker led the way with 27 points, while Ramon Sessions chipped in 19 off the bench. Byron Mullens missed the game with a sprained ankle and will be out Friday. Ben Gordon also sat out versus the Heat with a right knee injury and he will be a game-time decision.
The Nets swept all four meetings last season, but the Bobcats are 3-2 in their last five on the road in this series.