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(notes) 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(notes) scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his fifth 20-10 performance in seven games. Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes), 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(notes) 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(notes) 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.”
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.