New Jersey Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe had no head
coaching experience when he was picked to lead the team for the
rest of this season.
That’s mattered little as the Nets have snapped a pair of
lengthy losing streaks less than a week into his tenure.
He’ll try to help New Jersey earn back-to-back wins for the
first time in nearly eight months Wednesday night against the
visiting Golden State Warriors.
After setting a league record with 18 straight losses to open
this season, the Nets fired Lawrence Frank – the longest-tenured
coach in the Eastern Conference – on Nov. 29. Two days later, they
tapped Vandeweghe to lead the team.
“Because of his ability to work with young players, to get the
best out of young players, (Vandeweghe’s) a natural for this job,”
Nets president Rod Thorn said.
Thorn has proved correct as New Jersey (2-19) earned a win over
Charlotte in Vandeweghe’s debut on Dec. 4, and snapped an 18-game
road slide on Tuesday. Devin Harris hit the go-ahead basket with
14.9 seconds left for a 103-101 victory against Chicago.
“Is it over?” Vandeweghe said after the teams swapped leads
three times in the final 27 seconds. “This is really about our guys
coming to play at the end.”
The 51-year-old coach will try to help New Jersey post
consecutive wins for the first time since April 11-13, and the club
could use another strong performance from two young stars.
Brook Lopez scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his
fifth 20-10 performance in seven games. Chris Douglas-Roberts, the
third-leading scorer behind Lopez and Harris, has averaged 23.0
points on 56.4 percent shooting in the past two contests.
After scoring 100 points for the third time this season, the
league’s worst offense – 87.6 points per game – will try to take
advantage of the worst defense.
Losers of four straight and six of seven, the Warriors (6-14)
are allowing 113.7 points per contest, but they’ve had nine players
or fewer in their rotation since Nov. 30 for various reasons.
Golden State’s active roster could finally reach double digits
for the first time this month Wednesday. Anthony Morrow is expected
to return for the remainder of a five-game road trip after a death
in the family.
The Warriors also lost Corey Maggette in the third quarter of
Monday’s 104-88 loss at Oklahoma City when he was ejected for
arguing a foul call. Without Maggette, the Warriors’ one-point
deficit grew to 12 entering the final period.
“The tempo was perfect in the first half because we kept the
crowd out, we were able to get to the foul line. (Maggette) was a
big part of that,” said Warriors assistant Keith Smart, filling in
while head coach Don Nelson recovers from pneumonia. “As we moved
through the second half, we didn’t have that.”
Monta Ellis tried to make up for Maggette’s absence with 31
points, his sixth 30-point performance in nine games, and rookie
Stephen Curry added a career-high 22.
They’ll try to help Golden State earn its fourth straight
victory over the Nets. The Warriors snapped a 10-game skid in New
Jersey with a 105-97 victory on Nov. 1, 2008.