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Jeff Van Gundy: Brooklyn Nets "overachieve" due to P.J. Carlesimo's "masterful" job

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JVG offers kudoes to Nets, P.J.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets are cruising along, already 2-0 on their "circus" road trip, winning those two games by a combined 54 points. They've moved from six games back of the Knicks to a single game, are only two games back of the second seed and are beginning to distance themselves from teams behind them. They've won 40 games for the first time since 2007 and have an outside chance of winning 50 for only the second time in franchise history.

And they're 26-14 under P.J. Carlesimo which happens to be the fastest start for ANY Nets coach EVER. In short, they're looking like a very good team.

That's led Jeff Van Gundy, a serious candidate for the head coaching job next season, to tell Tim Bontemps that he's long thought the Nets have "overachieved" this season and that Carlesimo has done a "masterful" job as interim coach. He also thinks Avery Johnson did a "great job" before being fired in December.

"I think [the Nets] have accomplished great things," Van Gundy told Bontemps. "I think they have maximized what they have. And the only down period, to me, was when Brook Lopez, who I think is a very good player, was out, and the combination of Williams not playing well at that point and Lopez being out led them to a difficult stretch.

"I thought Avery did a great job," Van Gundy said. "When you factor in Brook Lopez being hurt ... that, to me, was the big reason for that December swoon. And then, having been an interim coach [with the Knicks], I think P.J. has handled it in a masterful way. It’s not an easy thing to take over in the middle of the year."

JVG also continued to refuse comment on any interest in the Nets job, noting that the Nets have a head coach in Carlesimo. Meanwhile, a writer for the Brooklyn Paper admits the Nets are, if not overachieving, then understated and underappreciated, but that's the Brooklyn way.