Nets’ Jacque Vaughn named East’s NBA Coach of the Month

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

Jacque Vaughn was rewarded with the NBA Eastern Conference’s Coach of the Month award for piloting the Brooklyn Nets to their winningest month in franchise history.

After a tumultuous start rocked by Steve Nash’s firing and Kyrie Irving’s eight-game suspension due to an antisemitic scandal, the Nets have returned to title contender status following a league-best 12-1 record in December.

Their 139-106 demolition of the tanking San Antonio Spurs Monday night has put the 25-12 Nets just one game behind the Eastern Conference leader and rival Boston Celtics (26-11).

Their only loss came at the hands of the Celtics, 103-92, on Dec. 4 in a rematch of the last season’s first-round playoff series. But while the Nets cruised through a relatively light schedule, they have also picked up signature wins against the Milwaukee Bucks (118-100) and Cleveland Cavaliers (125-117) in back-to-back fashion along the way.

Vaughn beat Cleveland’s J.B. Bickerstaff, Indiana’s Rick Carlisle, Orlando’s Jamahl Mosley, and Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers for the monthly award.

During their 12-1 run, Brooklyn had the most dominant offense — 120.5 offensive rating on the strength of a league-leading 119.7 points per game, 54.0 percent field goal percentage, 42.2 percent three-point field goal percentage, 61.3 percent effective field goal percentage, 61.3 percent — while having a top-10 defense (112.2 defensive rating).

Vaughn is off to a 23-7 start in his official capacity as the Nets’ head coach, the best 30-game start for any head coach in the franchise’s history.

The team’s superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have routinely praised Vaughn for his right temperament and for making everyone accountable.

Even without a dominant center to counter the Giannis Antetokounmpos and Joel Embiids in the East, the Nets under Vaughn have been shooting well and playing unselfish basketball to mitigate their lack of size.

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