The losses kept piling up for P.J. Carlesimo, and it didn’t matter which city his team called home.

 


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.
“This was a very difficult decision to make,” general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “It is one that I felt was necessary at this time. I am very appreciative of the hard work and effort that P.J. gave to this team, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
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.
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.
A similar scenario hardly seemed in the making for the Thunder following their switch from Seattle and discarding the SuperSonics nickname along the way.
The Thunder also let go assistant Paul Westhead, the former NBA coach who guided the Phoenix Mercury to the 2007 WNBA title.
Brooks, an 11-year NBA veteran, played on the Houston Rockets’ 1994 NBA championship team and bounced around with seven teams before becoming a Denver Nuggets assistant in 2003. Brooks also worked for the Sacramento Kings and joined Carlesimo’s staff last season in Seattle.
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. The Hornets were up 32 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, and stars Chris Paul and David West joined the rest of the starters on the bench.
Many fans also called it an early night, leaving the stands mostly empty by the time the final horn sounded. Despite the team’s full allotment of season tickets selling out in five days, only three of the eight home games have sold out — opening night, a visit from the NBA champion Boston Celtics and the return of the beloved Hornets.
This marked the second straight year Carlesimo got off to a poor start. He started 0-8 in Seattle last year and ended up 20-62.
Carlesimo wanted to build 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.
This marks the second time Carlesimo has been fired early in a season. He took the Portland Trail Blazers to three straight playoff appearances in the 1990s before moving to Golden State. During his first season there, he was choked by Latrell Sprewell in one of the most violent player-coach confrontations. Carlesimo was dismissed after a 6-21 start in 2000, his third season.
He got another chance after serving as an assistant on three NBA championship teams with the San Antonio Spurs, whom Thunder owner Clay Bennett once represented on the Board of Governors.