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LeBron says Nets pretty much quit on Avery Johnson

Jan 30, 2013, 9:08 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics Getty Images

LeBron doesn’t use the word “quit” when he said this. But he might as well have.

LeBron James was asked at shootaround about what was different between P.J. Carlesimo’s Nets — winners of 9-of-12 — and the Nets that were slumping so badly Avery Johnson got fired. The New York Daily News has LeBron’s answer.

“They are not doing anything different. They are playing with more passion, more together, they are playing like they want to play for their coach,” James said. “It sucks that Avery had to take the hit of them not wanting to play at a high level, but that’s what it looks like to me. They haven’t changed their offense, they haven’t changed their defense. They’ve picked it up in intensity level and you can tell they like to play for PJ.”

Unlike the Heat, who play hard every night?

Johnson was an old-school coach — hard on players and often a micromanager — but that tends to wear on teams after a while. Carlesimo is a little looser with the reins and the Nets have responded to that. The other big key was getting All-Star Brook Lopez back and fully healthy.

I think LeBron was simply saying what he saw and thought there, but you know that is going to anger a few Booklynites.

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