NEW YORK — Kenny Atkinson won’t have the chance to coach Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together in Brooklyn.

The Nets and their coach decided his influence with the team ran out before that pair could get started.

The Nets surprisingly split with their coach Saturday, even as they remain on track for a second consecutive playoff berth.

The announcement came less than 12 hours after Atkinson guided the Nets to a 139-120 rout of San Antonio. General Manager Sean Marks said he and Atkinson had been talking long before that about what was best for the Nets, and they finally concluded it wasn’t their fourth-year coach.

“He has taken us to where we stand today and I think the discussions that he and I had were what’s best for the Nets for a variety of different reasons, which I don’t think either one of us will get into,” Marks said. “But it’s time for another voice in the locker room and it’s time that we both part ways.”

Marks offered no specifics but said the decision had nothing to do with Durant, Irving or any other players on the roster.


Rather, he said, it was he and Atkinson deciding that the coach who took the Nets from the bottom of the NBA to the playoffs wasn’t the guy who could take them any further – even though Marks said Atkinson had proven himself as an NBA coach.

“But I think we’d both come to realize that it ran its course here and you wish it could have lasted much, much longer, but these are the tough decisions that we both basically have to have,” Marks said.

Marks acknowledged that the decision was surprising, but he called it amicable and believed he, Atkinson and ownership were all at peace with it.

Marks informed the players by text message Saturday morning and then discussed the decision with them at the team’s training facility. Players who had been here in previous seasons didn’t sense that Atkinson wasn’t getting through anymore but also acknowledged that things have changed in Brooklyn this season.

“I think you go across this league and you talk to every coach and every player,” forward Joe Harris said, “and dealing with a young, up-and-coming team is much different than coaching superstar players, and everybody kind of realizes that it’s a much different dynamic. And I wouldn’t say that’s the reason why we’re in this position right now, but it is different.”



HORNETS 108, ROCKETS 99: Terry Rozier scored 24 points and fast-starting Charlotte beat slumping Houston.

The Hornets roared ahead 20-0 in the first 61/2 minutes. The Rockets had eight turnovers and missed five 3-pointers on their first 12 possessions.

JAZZ 111, PISTONS 105: Bojan Bogdanovic scored 32 points and Utah withstood two big Piston rallies to win in Detroit for its fifth straight victory.

Utah led by 22 points in the second quarter, but the Pistons came all the way back to tie it early in the fourth. The Jazz then went on an 18-2 run, but that big lead nearly slipped away as well. It was a one-possession game before Utah’s Rudy Gobert made two free throws with 18.5 seconds left to make it 107-102.

CAVALIERS 104, NUGGETS 102: Kevin Love scored 27 points and short-handed Cleveland surprised the Denver Nuggets for the second time this season, in Denver.

Collin Sexton also scored 27 points and Matthew Dellavedova had a career-high 14 assists to help Cleveland end a four-game losing streak.

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