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Nets fire coach Jacque Vaughn with team in 11th place at the All-Star break

Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn questions a referee's call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Feb. 5, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson, File) Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn questions a referee's call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Feb. 5, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson, File)
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NEW YORK -

The Brooklyn Nets fired Jacque Vaughn on Monday after ending a disappointing first half of the season with a 50-point loss in Boston in their final game before the All-Star break.

About a year after giving Vaughn a contract extension, the Nets changed course and said an interim coach would be named soon.

The Nets dropped five of their last six games before the break to fall to 21-33, putting them in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. Their 136-86 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday was their worst defeat since moving to Brooklyn in 2012 and the second-worst in franchise history, and leading scorer Mikal Bridges seemed particularly frustrated in his postgame comments.

Vaughn finished 71-68 with the Nets, guiding them into the playoffs on two separate stints.

"This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we feel is in the best interest of the team going forward," general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. "Jacque has represented this organization with exemplary character and class for the past eight years. The consistent positivity and passion he poured into our team daily will remain with the players and staff he interacted with throughout his tenure."

Vaughn replaced the fired Steve Nash on Nov. 1, 2022, and quickly led the Nets from a poor start toward the top of the East. Brooklyn went 12-1 that December and 43-32 the rest of the season, making the playoffs despite trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during the season.

But Brooklyn's lack of star power this season has been apparent, and Vaughn lamented last week the minutes restrictions that have kept Ben Simmons and some of his other top players from staying on the floor long enough to give the Nets a better chance to be competitive.

The Nets got off to a 15-15 start this season, but things began to turn when Vaughn made a curious decision to barely play or entirely rest all his top players during a 144-122 home loss to Milwaukee on Dec. 27. The NBA fined the Nets US$100,000, the first time a team was sanctioned for violating the league's player participation policy that went into effect this season.

Vaughn got his first chance to coach the Nets in March 2020 after Kenny Atkinson was fired just before the season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He led the Nets to a 7-3 record and into the playoffs in the restart "bubble" at Walt Disney World, but the Nets then opted to give the head coaching job to Nash, despite having no experience. Vaughn stayed on as an assistant.

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