P.J. Carlesimo shows media bashing to fuel Nets

P.J. Carlesimo Credit: Getty Images
P.J. Carlesimo used a media member blasting the Nets as motivation.
Credit: Getty Images

In between their crushing triple-overtime loss in Chicago on Saturday and their impressive fourth quarter in Brooklyn on Monday, not much was said and there was not any practice other than a morning shootaround

There was a film session and while the Nets spent most of their flight watching video, they also watched another video segment on Monday unrelated to Game 4.

Instead it was footage of a halftime interview Chicago Sun-Times writer Joe Cowley gave on Brooklyn’s YES Network telecast. He stated the Bulls wanted to face the Nets in the first round because they privately felt Brooklyn was “gutless” and “heartless,” and therefore could be exposed in close games in the fourth quarter.

“Rather than do nothing, do something,” interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said on Tuesday’s conference call. “Did it help 15 guys? No, but maybe it helped a couple of guys. Maybe it struck a chord with a couple of guys so it was just an effort to do a little something.

“We knew we weren’t going to do anything on the court or anything like that and I’m not a Knute Rockne speaker. So it was just something that hopefully would resonate with a couple of different people.”

After closing out Monday’s 110-91 victory on a 25-7 run over the final eight minutes, players, most notably Deron Williams, brushed aside the clip as a joke.

“We didn’t need that,” Williams said. “That’s not why. That had nothing to do with it. We laughed about it. P.J. wanted us to watch it. And after it was over, we were like, ‘That’s it? What are we supposed to do now? Ah! We’re mad!’”

The comments from Cowley came before the Nets blew a 14-point lead and gave up a 16-2 run that forced the first of three overtimes.

Carlesimo said that although it was important for players to hear it, he didn’t think it made as much of an impact as knowing that Monday was the first of three elimination games the Nets will go through if they win this series which would be more of test of the team’s guts and heart.

“I think each succeeding game, if we get through Game 6, Game 7 will be that,” Carlesimo said. “We’re day-to-day. We dug ourselves a hole and we have to find a way to win on Thursday and bring it back to Brooklyn but that’s meaningless if we don’t get it done on Saturday.

“But I just think it’s each succeeding one. That was what last night was. That’s what Thursday will be and if we can get by Thursday that’s what Saturday is going to be. Elimination games are challenging games to play but knockout games are hard to play too. It’s not easy to eliminate a team, so it goes both ways.”

Watson motivated by Robinson

C.J. Watson is not the first player to dislike Nate Robinson and he will not be the last to dislike the former Knick guard who is capable of scoring points in bunches.

He has come out in recent interviews with ESPN saying he was not a fan of Robinson when they were teammates with Chicago. The feeling seemed to be mutual when Robinson threw him into the scorer’s table in the second quarter during a brief tussle.

Whether or not that has served as motivation for Watson is up to debate. Watson is currently best known for blowing a dunk in Game 4 that would have given the Nets a 16-point lead.

Watson, however, is averaging 9.2 points per game in the series and 12.5 points in the two wins. He had 11 points Monday on 4-of-8 shooting.

“I don’t know if they’re both feeding off that,” Carlesimo said. “I think it’s been a motivator for both of them. They’re both playing with a lot of emotion and they’re both playing very well. It seems to have had a positive impact on both of them.”

Watson is shooting 43.9 percent (18-for-41) in the series but Carlesimo doesn’t think it’s his best stretch of the season. Carlesimo points to a stretch from Feb. 13 to March 1 when he averaged 14.5 points per game on 53.5 percent (38-for-71) shooting while making starts for Williams and Joe Johnson.

“I think he’s played very well,” Carlesimo said. “He’s had a couple of really big games for us. He strung games together in certain periods also. I think he’s playing very well right now, as well as he’s played at any point but I don’t want to minimize all the good games he had during the regular season either.”

Two bigs are better than one

Carlesimo has been hesitant to use Andray Blatche and Brook Lopez at the same time but as the Nets scored 33 fourth-quarter points, his two centers combined for 15 points and six of the 11 baskets while limiting the Chicago starting frontcourt of Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to six points and three rebounds.

The performance defensively is more of a determination for future instances when Carlesimo might play Blatche and Lopez together in the fourth. Monday night they played from the 6:56 mark until there were 55 seconds left.

“I think it is difficult, but sometimes how difficult it is for somebody to guard us doesn’t trump doing it [at] the other end of the floor,” Carlesimo said. “That wasn’t the case last night but we like this matchup and we feel good about going to either one of them and if we’re not stopping them on the other end and the team is kicking our butts on the boards that trumps it.”

Offensively, the duo combined for nine points and three rebounds in those six minutes, but defensively the score went from 88-84 to 106-91 as the Bulls went 1-for-5 on shots beyond 10 feet after initially getting two layups.

In the third, when Chicago cut a 10-point lead to four, that trio combined for 13 points and seven rebounds.

The pairing almost ended at the timeout with 3:15 remaining in a seven-point game as Blatche’s calf was acting up. However, after getting treatment during a timeout Carlesimo did not make a change.

“He was obviously affected,” Carlesimo said. “He didn’t want to come out and he was playing effective, so I stayed with it.”

Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


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