Archive for Sunday, November 23, 2008

OKC fires Carlesimo

November 23, 2008

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Oklahoma City (ap) — The losses kept piling up for P.J. Carlesimo, and it didn’t matter which city his team called home.

With the relocated Oklahoma City Thunder off to an NBA-worst 1-12 start, Carlesimo was fired as coach Saturday and replaced on an interim basis by assistant Scott Brooks.

The firing — the first of an NBA coach this season — followed a 105-80 defeat to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night for the Thunder’s 10th straight loss.

Brooks was to make his debut Saturday night in a rematch with the Hornets in New Orleans, and general manager Sam Presti said he would remain through the end of the season.

“This isn’t about one person,” Presti said. “There’s accountability for everybody involved — players, coaches, myself and anyone involved with our basketball team. We understand that.”

The Thunder also let go assistant Paul Westhead, who guided the Phoenix Mercury to the 2007 WNBA title and won an NBA title in 1980 with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Carlesimo had been expected to produce a winner around Kevin Durant, but he never really stood a chance. He inherited a roster shredded by the trades of stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis after a decision to rebuild. But there was clearly more to rebuild than anticipated.

Carlesimo had questioned his team in recent games for failing to give full effort, performances resulting in a string of blowouts. The last six losses were by double-digits, and most of those were even more out of hand before the Thunder rallied.

“We feel like that is something that is nonnegotiable,” Presti said. “We have to continue to play hard and put ourselves in positions to compete and win basketball games.”

The loss Friday night served as a reminder of how the Hornets rebuilt from an 18-win season to a playoff contender during a two-year stay in Oklahoma City brought on by Hurricane Katrina. The Hornets improved by 20 wins their first season in Oklahoma City, and by last year were pushing the San Antonio Spurs in a second-round playoff series.

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