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Johnson reflects on Coach of the Month

12/06/2012 3:14 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro
On Monday, the NBA named Avery Johnson as the Eastern Conference’s Coach of the Month for games played in October and November, tabbing him as the conference’s top coach after he led the Nets to an 11-4 start that was the best 15-game pace in franchise history.

Johnson spoke about the award in his pre-game press conference prior to the Nets’ game with Oklahoma City on Tuesday, and as is his style, Avery downplayed the award as one that he won, but the entire organization earned.

“Anytime something like that happens, I think it’s a positive for the whole organization, and for me, anytime some sort of recognition comes my way, I always think about the people I’ve been working with,” he said. “Ownership has been very good and flexible, and (Nets GM) Billy King (worked hard) in assembling this roster,” Johnson said.

But no matter what the front office gives you, it’s up to the coaches to devise a plan, and the players to execute it…and on all levels, the Nets have succeeded so far in Johnson’s eyes.

“I’ve got players that have made great plays, and Deron’s been great with his leadership, and Gerald (Wallace) and Brook (Lopez)…I could go on and on,” he said, “and I have an assistant coaching staff led by PJ Carlesimo that has worked awfully hard.”

It showed on the court over the first month, as the Nets won an Eastern Conference-high 11 games and held opponents to just 90.4 points per game, the second-best defensive total in the league. In addition, they went 7-1 at the Barclays Center, immediately turning their new home into one of the toughest road trips in the NBA.

Still, Johnson has often called his team a “work in progress,” and said he identified some fixable flaws as the Nets opened December with back-to-back losses to last year’s NBA finalists, Miami and Oklahoma City – but he also felt that those games were an important litmus test, and as his team continues to gel and get healthy, the third-year coach is confident that the sky is the limit for the Brooklynites.

“When you get to the Finals, and you go through four seven-game playoff series, and you’re together for a whole year, and you go through all the highs and lows of the regular season and the playoffs…when those teams go through all of that, you can’t duplicate that type of experience,” Johnson said of the Heat and Thunder on Tuesday. “For us, every game matters; every game Joe (Johnson) and Deron (Williams) play together, and Gerald plays, and once we get Brook back…those guys just need time and experience on the floor. Once we get there, we’re going to start to take that next step.”

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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