Joe Johnson likes P.J. Carlesimo's direct approach

P.J. Carlesimo shouts to his team in the P.J. Carlesimo shouts to his team in the third quarter of a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Jan. 2, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Every coach has a distinctive style, his own way of trying to convey whatever message he's trying to drill into his players' heads.

P.J. Carlesimo's approach can be rather blunt, something Joe Johnson actually enjoys.

"He's pretty forward, man," Johnson said before the Nets played the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena Wednesday night. "He just kind of tells you like it is. If you ain't playing worth a ----, he'll tell you, you ain't playing worth a ----. As players, some of us may respond a little different to it, but for me, I can appreciate it.

"He tries to do everything he can and everything in his power to put us in position to where we can be successful."

After knocking off the Thunder, Carlesimo is 3-1 since he became the Nets' interim coach a week ago when Avery Johnson was fired. Carlesimo was back in a familiar place, roaming the sideline and coaching against the franchise that cut him loose from his last head-coaching gig.

He was with the team when it moved abruptly from Seattle following Kevin Durant's rookie season in 2007-08. Carlesimo was fired after going 1-12 during the Thunder's first season in Oklahoma, when Russell Westbrook was a rookie.

Carlesimo, 63, still has a home here, but said this wasn't an emotional return for him. However, he did say there was a different attachment to this city as opposed to the Nets' first stop on this three-game trip that began in Texas.

"It's different because it's a place where I was a head coach," he said, "versus San Antonio, where I was an assistant coach. But I wasn't here that long. Still, it's more about the individuals and there's only three guys left from that team. Kevin and Nick [Collison] were the only two that played in Seattle, and I was only here 13 games with Russell.

"There's a lot of people here I consider friends . . . but I don't think it's a big deal, to be honest."

Carlesimo has noticed similarities between the Nets' inaugural season in Brooklyn and the Thunder's first in Oklahoma.

"The reception and the enthusiasm were incredible in both situations," he said. "This one was just different because it was new. It's the only professional team in this state. It was so sudden, so new, that the fans here are great and you expected it to be like that. I mean, it was like you go from not having an NBA franchise to boom!"

Almost like what happened to Carlesimo last week. He goes from an assistant coach, boom, back to being a head coach -- even if it may be temporary as the Nets shoot for the stars and try to coax Phil Jackson out of retirement.

But Johnson sure seems to like playing for Carlesimo, who watched him score a game-high 33 points Wednesday night.

"It's been cool, man," Johnson said. "I think he's still trying to figure us out as a team, as players, likes and dislikes. He's very understanding, a guy you can go to, talk to. He comes at you straight and direct, kind of tells you what he expects from you, and as a player you can really appreciate that."

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