Report: Nets will try to talk to Phil Jackson ‘in the next few days’

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Nets GM Billy King can say that P.J. Carlesimo is the team’s head coach all he wants.

We all know the expectations are a little out of control in Brooklyn, and with the firing of Avery Johnson taking place earlier this week, the team will be looking to get a big-name coach on the payroll sooner rather than later.

There isn’t a bigger name out there at this point than Phil Jackson, but plenty of questions surround him in terms of whether he truly wants to return to coaching, as well as whether or not he’d be able to achieve the desired level of success, especially given the talent available on the roster as currently constructed.

That won’t stop the team’s billionaire owner from trying, of course.

In an interview with Sarah Kustok of YES, Howard Beck of the New York Times reported (via NetsDaily) that he expects Mikhail Prokhorov to be in contact with Jackson in the next few days.

We have heard pretty definitively thatPhil Jackson is number 1 as he should be, as you’d expect he would be on the list. What we don’t really know is timing. Will they hire Phil Jackson sometime this season? Would that be the goal? Do they want PJ to finish out the season and then go through a coaching search? How quickly do they want to move?

I think they will try to talk to Phil Jackson as soon as they can sometime in the next few days when Mikhail Prokhorov comes back from his new years eve partying. I think they’ll look to have that conversation.

While the conversation may take place, it’s tough to envision Phil taking over this Nets squad mid-season.

That being said, if the ultimatum (i.e., specific demand of a potential offer) was such that it was the mandate, it may end up happening. But Jackson would likely be forthcoming that he, like the rest of us, doesn’t view this Nets team as a legitimate title contender at this point, so he’d attempt to set the expectations at an appropriate point for the rest of this season.

As for what that level is, exactly, only ownership can decide. But realistically, it shouldn’t be higher than a trip to the second round of the playoffs at best, and a simple berth to the postseason at worst.

Missing the playoffs entirely, especially in the watered-down Eastern Conference, would be a bit of a disaster. That’s why Avery Johnson was dismissed, and if a more long-term solution at head coach is to be hired to replace Carlesimo’s interim status mid-season, that person will need to be firmly on board with the reality that the playoff train in Brooklyn must reach its final destination, and show measurable progress along the way as the season progresses.

Robin Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Jae Crowder’s shoe (VIDEO)

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Why did Robin Lopez tie Jae Crowder‘s shoe during Sunday’s Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls? We may never know. Perhaps he was just helping the Celtics forward after he tossed him to the ground? Or maybe he’s just doing weird Robin Lopez things?

In any case, Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Crowder’s shoe after it came off during a battle down low early in the third quarter at United Center.

Here’s how it went down.

Via Twitter:

I still have no idea.

Noticeably frustrated, Russell Westbrook gets prickly with reporter after loss to Rockets (VIDEO)

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The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets played an ugly game down the stretch on Sunday. The Rockets employed a hack-a-Andre Roberson strategy, while the Thunder played sloppy and often poorly with Russell Westbrook out of the game.

The latter was the subject in question when Oklahoman reporter Berry Tramel spoke with Westbrook and Steven Adams at a postgame press conference following the Game 4 loss, 113-109.

Tramel’s question — whether the Rockets got a boost when Westbrook was off the floor — was directed at Adams, but the Thunder MVP candidate couldn’t let it go.

Snapping at Tramel, Westbrook told him not to split them up.

Via Twitter:

Tramel’s question is legitimate, and one of the overarching themes of this series thus far. Westbrook’s response is pretty far off the mark, but it did tell the story of how he’s feeling going away from Chesapeake Arena down 3-1.

Game 5 is on Tuesday in Houston.

Kevin Love throws full court pass to LeBron James for sweet and-1 bucket (VIDEO)

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Kevin Love and LeBron James were locked in an epic battle with the Indiana Pacers during the first half of Sunday’s Game 4 playoff matchup. Part of that matchup included yet another long, full court pass between the Cleveland Cavaliers duo.

Love, as you might guess, was the passer and LeBron was again the receiver.

The play came in the final minute of the second quarter, with Love nabbing a rebound from the right block and LeBron jetting down the floor.

Love’s pass was perfectly placed, and Paul George just didn’t have the strength to keep him from getting the and-1.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Nene’s 28 lead Rockets past Thunder for 3-1 series lead

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Houston.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles.

Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder.

Westbrook had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at the break. He grabbed the 10th rebound in the final second of the second quarter, and the Thunder led 58-54 at intermission. Meanwhile, Harden made just 2 of 9 shots and scored just six points in the first half.

The Thunder opened the second half with a 10-2 run, but Houston closed to 77-73 at the end of the third quarter.

Adams made the first of two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining to cut Oklahoma City’s deficit to four. He rebounded his missed second free throw and found Westbrook for a 3-pointer that cut Houston’s lead to one point. But the Thunder lost track of Nene on the other end, and he converted a three-point play. Gordon’s two free throws with 6.2 seconds made it a four-point game.

TIP-INS

Rockets: G Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the NBA for confronting a fan after Game 3. The league announced the fine about two hours before Game 4 tipped off.

Thunder: Westbrook had just one turnover in the first half. … Adams went 6 for 6 from the field in the first half. … Westbrook missed all six of his shots in the third quarter.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.